LIMA — Armed with a new defensive scheme and a new line-up since the last time the two teams played, the Wapakoneta Redskins erased the memories of a past loss to St. Marys on Saturday night.
The Redskins won a sectional title with a three-game sweep of Auglaize County rival St. Marys at Lima Senior High School.
The 26-24, 25-19, 25-22 Division II sectional final win means Wapakoneta advances to the district tournament for the first time since 1997.
Avenging a regular season loss to the Roughriders didn’t feel too bad to Wapak coach Keith Rambin and his Redskins, either.
“I’ve said all along that the only team that scares me is my own team,” Rambin said. “We’ve got a great team and when they decide to play, they can play with anybody.”
“We let up a lot of runs and played pretty inconsistently,” St. Marys coach Tricia Rosenbeck said. “It had a lot to do with us making unforced errors, which you can’t do against a good team like Wapak.”
While Wapakoneta advanced with its 3-0 win, Celina kept its string of district appearances intact with a 25-19, 25-16, 25-12 win over Elida in the first match on Saturday.
Celina and Wapakoneta advance to district semifinals Wednesday at Liberty-Benton. Celina will play at 6 p.m. against Pemberville Eastwood. Wapakoneta will play at 7:15 p.m. against Napoleon.
St. Marys ran the Redskins out of the gym back on Oct. 4 in four games. After Wapakoneta won the first game, St. Marys won the next three games against a Redskin team in strategic transition.
“We had just put in a new defense that week called the middle-up defense,” Rambin said. “We hadn’t played it all year and we were switching.
“We weren’t ready to compete for a WBL title at that point,” Rambin added. “The pressure got to them. St. Marys was better on that night, but we’re a very good squad.”
Wapakoneta also moved around players to counteract St. Marys’ big hitter Jenny Brown.
“We knew Jenny Brown was their go-to person, it was no big secret,” Rambin said. “So I flip-flopped our middles and put Morgan (Quellhorst) in the middle and also moved Megan Hayzlett next to Morgan.
“Megan’s never played next to Morgan. Megan is a lot longer. It worked out real well against Bath and it worked well tonight. You put those two together and that’s a big wall.”
Jenny Brown finished the match with 11 kills, but held her to two in the key second game. The Roughriders got out to a 11-7 lead in that second game before Wapakoneta scored six straight points to grab control of the game and the match.
“That was the key to the game, slowing down Jenny Brown,” Rambin said.
Rosenbeck said unlike Wednesday night, her team couldn’t find secondary hitters.
“We needed other people to put the ball away and we couldn’t find it tonight,” Rosenbeck said.
With Quellhorst and Hayzlett sealing off the middle defensively, the Redskins turned to Krissy Stinebaugh for hitting. Stinebaugh had a big night hitting with 16 kills.
Senior-laden St. Marys bows out of the tournament with an 18-6 record, ending the run for nine seniors that included a 7-2 record in the WBL and a six-match winning streak heading into the sectional final.
“It’s really disappointing, especially to go out with a great group of seniors,” Rosenbeck said. “They brought a lot to this program and I was hoping it would go a lot longer than the sectional final."