Lady Cavs, OD eliminated at Culver Sectional

CULVER — Both the host Lady Cavaliers and Oregon-Davis struggled with serve receive, allowing opponents to string together big runs, and both fell in first-round action at the Class A Culver Community Sectional Thursday.
Culver took game two from Marquette Catholic but was ultimately eliminated in four games, while Westville dispatched OD in three quick games in the late match to set up a semifinal between the Blazers and the Blackhawks at noon Saturday following a 10:30 a.m. match between Argos and defending champion Triton.

MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 3, CULVER COMMUNITY 1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-21, 25-12)
Culver fell behind 9-2 early in the first game and never recovered until the second game, taking a lopsided 25-13 loss in the opener Thursday night.
“All year our struggle has been passing and serve receive,” said Culver volleyball coach Amanda Minix. “I got a little bit of information from some other coaches around about Marquette, and we came in knowing that they had two hitters — outside with Zoya Gantz and middle with Sabrina Brown. We didn’t know where they hit, but I told our blockers after I saw them warm up that we needed to get up and block them, at least get a hand up and slow them down. At times we did, at times we didn’t. The outside hitter, she hit to the same spot every time so I told our girls we’ve got to start cheating over and taking that away from her. We started to, but I think it was too little, too late.”
In the second game, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 7-3 lead and held off Marquette down the stretch after eight ties, the latest coming at 23-23. A Donna Zehner tip off a Samantha Howard set and a Howard push put the Cavs over the top for their only win of the night, 25-23.
“During practice this week there were places that I told the girls we needed to hit — their short middle and their back corners,” Minix said. “The girls finally saw that after talking to each other on the floor. I think that’s what we did in game two, we were able to hit those spots, which helped us out a lot.”
The two teams traded momentum back and forth in a third game that saw nine ties and five lead changes, but Marquette closed out the game 7-3 with strong outside hitting from Gantz to go up a game 25-21.
Culver kept competing in the fourth game, trading leads twice and playing to six ties with the Blazers early in the set, but Marquette used a 14-3 run to separate itself and claim the win in four games, 25-12.
“Momentum is a big part of the game. As we let them get three, four, five points on us, it’s hard for us to fight back,” said Minix. “We kind of fall apart on ourselves and on each other. I don’t think the girls necessarily gave up, but after we gave up those five, six points, and I think they started thinking ‘Could this be it?’ It’s a pressure situation, and I think that caused some of the problems.”
The Lady Cavs were led by Howard’s all-around performance of 14 kills, 11 assists and two aces, while first-year sophomore Zehner finished with eight kills and a block. Clare Hartman dished up six assists, Alex Baker finished with 14 digs, and Ali Overmyer passed out 12 digs with an ace as Culver closed the year at 7-19.
The Cavs are expected to return Howard and most of their attacking but will have roles to fill in their passing and setting games with Overmyer, Baker and Hartman all graduating.
“All three of them will be missed; they played big roles on our team,” said Minix. “Ali Overmyer, she was just an all-around player. She wasn’t a big person in the front row, but she was a smart player, back row she was good on our defense. Alex Baker was another one. She played all the way around. Mainly the front row was her key spot. Then Clare Hartman, she was a setter and she’ll be missed. We have Samantha Hartman coming back as a setter, which will fill her spot.
“We’ve got this summer where we really need to get in the gym and work on a lot of things, and hopefully we’ll come back next year ready to go.”
(25-13, 23-25, 25-21, 25-12)
At Culver Sectional
Culver stats
Kills: Samantha Howard 14, Donna Zehner 8
Assists: Howard 11, Clare Hartman 6
Aces: Howard 2, Ali Overmyer 1
Digs: Alex Baker 14, Overmyer 12
Blocks: Zehner 1
Record: 7-19 (final)

WESTVILLE 3, OD 0 (25-8, 25-4, 25-8)
It’s been a tough season for the Lady Bobcats, and it didn’t get any easier Thursday night.
OD struggled to find quality ups on Westville’s serves — led by a 21-for-21 effort with eight aces from Samantha Albers — and the Blackhawks rattled off huge runs to put the Cats in the hole early and never took off the pressure in a lopsided 25-8, 25-4, 25-8 win.
“Our passing was terrible tonight,” said OD head coach Tim Keyser. “We just couldn’t get it together, and then we just started pointing fingers at each other and just not playing together as a team. It’s been ongoing the whole season.”
Kaylee Hakes and Haley Collings had kills in game one for the Bobcats to cut an initial Westville lead to 4-2, but they never got any closer than that. OD wasn’t able to string together consecutive points again until a tip from Delayney Shively and a Westville attacking error brought the Cats to within 20-7 in the final game, but it was far too little, too late.
Oregon-Davis graduates three seniors in Katelyn Witham, Lincy Jones and Shanena Taylor — who was absent from the lineup Thursday night — as the Bobcats work to put a winless season behind them.
“Lincy Jones, she sacrifices her body, puts her body on the floor and really tries. She’s a senior, she’s really upset that she doesn’t get to come back and play next year. She is a great leader for me,” said Keyser.
“Katelyn Witham she didn’t start playing until basically her senior year, and she played libero and really grew as a player. Every time she did get to see the floor, which wasn’t all the time, she played with heart. Shanena, she didn’t get to be here tonight. She’s actually in women’s pro rodeo, so that’s good for her.”
“It’s just tough right now,” Keyser added. “I told them all season long they had the talent, and our record shouldn’t be what it is, and hopefully next year we can play together as a team. We took a step backwards this year instead of forward.”
(25-8, 25-4, 25-8)
At Culver Sectional
OD stats unavailable