BOTKINS - In a game where both teams brought comparable firepower to the front line, it was the little things that made the difference as Botkins opened the season with a 25-9, 25-27, 25-12, 25-16 win over Waynesfield-Goshen Saturday.
Botkins served at a 98 percent clip with 20 aces and passed the ball more efficiently to set up top hitters Logan Pitts and Rachelle Maurer as they found themselves in control most of the time.
“To be honest, I thought we had two girls that would be top servers,” Botkins head coach Bryan Trego said. “We had a lot of people serving tough balls … We are really excited about that.”
Botkins walked through a 25-9 win in the first game before the Tigers managed to regroup. Three kills by freshman Kiersten Wilcox and a Trojan rotation error fueled a comeback from a 23-25 deficit to tie it at one game apiece. However, serve reception problems again plagued the Tigers in the final two games. Their inability to control the ball allowed them to serve more than one ball consecutively only three times in each of the final two games. As a result, Botkins was able to steadily distance itself each time.
“We just couldn’t get in a groove offensively,” said Waynesfield head coach Karen Dunson. “We have several strong hitters, but it is hard to use them if you don’t pass.”
Tied at 4-4 in the final game, the Trojans ran off eight unanswered points and were able to coast from there. Despite the convincing win, Trego said it was anything but easy as the Tigers showed a much-improved squad.
“There program has struggled lately and sometimes you just had to show up (to get a win),” Trego said. “They forced us to work for it today. Dunson has them on the right path and she will get them over the hump.”
“We missed more serves today than I wanted to see,” Dunson said. “That has been our problem for years. We haven’t had a lot of success with our program so I still think there is a little bit of an intimidation factor. But we have some strong hitters and the girls are practicing hard on passing the ball. I know they are going to be okay.”
Botkins’ only evident problem during the match was an inability to take advantage of easy set opportunities for easy kills, which allowed the Tigers to hang around for spells.
“We have been focused on eliminating negatives in our game,” Trego said. “I think maybe a little too much. We had a few times where we had opportunities but we just got the ball over the net. I think that will take care of itself as we get more experience.”
Botkins (1-0) plays New Bremen today. Waynesfield-Goshen (0-1) hosts Delphos Jefferson tonight.