VOLLEYBALL: Wapak wins thriller

Megan Hayzlett sure picked a good time to have a career night.
The junior middle hitter had her best game as a varsity player to help lead the Wapakoneta Redskins to a 3-2 win over the Defiance Bulldogs in a pivotal Western Buckeye League volleyball match Thursday at Wapakoneta High School.
“I told the girls, that is probably the biggest win in my two years here,” Wapak coach Keith Rambin said. “It was probably our best performance of the year when we needed it most.”
The match was a back-and-forth affair. Defiance won the first game 25-21 before Wapak evened it at a game apiece with a 27-25 win in the second.
After the Bulldogs eked out the third game 26-24, Wapak forced the tiebreaker with a 25-16 win in the fourth.
In the tiebreaker, Defiance took an early 6-4 lead before the Redskins rallied to take a 12-8 lead and hold on for a 15-10 win.
Match point was scored, fittingly enough, on a double block by Hayzlett and senior Morgan Quellhorst.
Hayzlett had a career-high 15 kills and threw in six aces and seven blocks for good measure.
In the fourth game, she dropped in three straight aces that gave Wapak a 15-5 lead in the game and put Defiance on its heels.
“That was huge,” Rambin said. “That was kind of the momentum changer.”
Senior Krissy Stienbaugh had another big night for the Redskins, matching Hayzlett’s 15 kills.
Junior setter Nicole Brown had 43 assists. Junior libero Amber Dickerson had 40 digs.
The win keeps the Redskins in a three-way tie for first place in the WBL. Wapak (6-5 overall) is 3-1 in league play, along with Ottawa-Glandorf and Celina.
The league logjam continues with Defiance (5-5 overall), St. Marys, Van Wert, Bath and Elida all sporting matching 2-2 WBL records.
Defiance jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first game and led by as many as four throughout the game, taking advantage of the power hitting of sophomore hitter Demma Strausbaugh and deft dinking into holes in the Wapak defense.
“We start off slow just about every game,” Rambin said. “We start off in a funk and it takes us awhile. Now I’m almost to the point to where I’m used to it.”
The Redskins took an early 10-5 in Game 2. The Bulldogs knotted the score at 18-18 and again at 25-25 before Wapak got back-to-back kills from Hayzlett and junior hitter Carli Sammons to win the game.
Defiance rallied from a 12-10 deficit in the third game with three kills by sophomore blocker Libby Burkhart, a pair of aces by senior libero Kayle Pasterz and a dink by Strausbaugh to take a 17-13 lead. After Wapak bounced back to retake the lead 24-22, the Bulldogs closed out the game with four straight points, including a dink and a kill by Strausbaugh for the win.
The Bulldogs used tipping to their advantage through much of the match before Rambin made a key adjustment.
“You can tell, when things start to get tight, they start to tip,” Rambin said. “I called a timeout and told the girls I want my ends to push up all the way in front of the 10-foot line because they’re tight right now and all they’re doing is dinking the ball.
“And we started picking up all their tips and took away that part of their arsenal.”
Wapak controlled the fourth game. Then, down 8-7 in the fifth, the Redskins got a huge hit from Quellhorst, two from Stienbaugh — one through a double block — and a pair of return errors for a five-point swing.
Strausbaugh’s kill made cut Wapak’s lead to 12-9. But Quellhorst got a kill in the middle and Hayzlett added one from the left side through a double block to make it 14-9.
Defiance regained the serve on a Wapak error before the tandem block by Hayzlett and Quellhorst ended the match.
“This was an entire team effort tonight,” Rambin said. “Carli Sammons there at the end dug up a crucial ball that, had she not been in the right spot, would have gone down for an easy point.”