Defense, Serving Is St. Marys' Ace In WBL Win

Members of the St. Marys Roughriders volleyball team group together after a point during a Western Buckeye League match against Wapakoneta on Thursday.
Sports Editor

St. Marys is gaining confidence at the right time.

After enduring the annual gauntlet against Midwest Athletic Conference teams to start the season, the Roughriders volleyball team won their first game on Saturday in dominating fashion and followed that up with a four-set 25-14, 16-25, 25-20, 25-20 Western Buckeye League victory against Wapakoneta on Thursday.

“It was a great team win for us tonight, everyone contributed,” Roughriders coach Madison Broering said. “I think in the last week, we have had some building moments that have boosted the girl’s confidence and next week, we have some tough opponents, but I know the girls are ready to play. They are ready to compete now.”

Serving and defense made the difference for the Riders (2-5, 1-0 WBL) on Thursday as St. Marys tallied 11 aces and 56 digs as a team to combat Wapakoneta’s (4-1, 0-1) tall front net.

Trailing 9-8 in the first set, Carly Caywood recorded one ace during a six-point run for the senior, but the Redskins struggled with Caywood’s serves, unable to return the ball as the Roughriders grabbed a 14-9 lead. Pushing the lead to 17-13, the Riders ended the set on an 8-1 run on serves by Leah Walter (5-0 run) and Claire Bertke (3-0 run) as the first set ended on an ace by Bertke. St. Marys scored five of its 25 points in that first set on aces.

Wapakoneta hung with the Roughriders in the second set, able to break past its serve-receive struggles, and used the sizes of Kalie Miller and Makenzie Wilson to block the Roughriders hitters at the net.

However, once St. Marys figured out how to overcome Wapakoneta’s size, it did just enough to win the match.

Leading 4-2 six points into the third set, Bertke served four straight points, which included a kill by Sam Ackroyd, to lead 7-2. Wapakoneta stayed with the Roughriders again, evening pulling within three after a 4-1 run with Morgan Voll and Barnett serving, but the Riders’ early run in the set kept the Redskins at arms length as the Roughriders ended the set by benefitting from four straight errors by the Redskins to grab a 2-1 set lead.

The combination of Walter’s serving and Bertke’s and Ackroyd’s net play handed the Roughriders a quick 5-0 lead in set No. 4. Bertke produced her third kill in the set with St. Marys leading 6-1 and Ackroyd recorded a kill and a block as part of that early push.

St. Marys’ lead ballooned to as much as 10 points when Walter served five straight points, which included a couple of aces and a kill by Ackroyd to lead 20-10.

But the Redskins’ size gave the Roughriders issues to close out the match as Emma Rex served four straight points to close a 24-16 deficit down to just four points. St. Marys’ defense kept the volleys alive, but Miller’s and Wilson’s offense stymied any attempt the Riders had to put them away until Karsyn McGlothen closed the match out with a kill that split the defense.

Ackroyd, Walter and Bertke each produced a team-high seven kills, followed by five from Caywood and two each from Abbie Young and McGlothen.

Cherissa Priddy kept a lot of plays alive on Thursday with her 19 digs, followed by eight each from Young, Caywood and Cora Rable. Kelsey Poppe and Haley Felver tallied four digs and Walter finished with three. Young collected 14 assists followed by 11 from Rable. 

“Our defense was scrappy tonight,” Broering said. “We were able to get a lot of ups [digs] and it was great to see that no matter who was on the court or in the game. That is something where we can depend on anyone.”

Leading the race in aces was Walter with four, followed by three from Ackroyd and two from Bertke.

The Roughriders freshman and junior varsity teams swept Wapakoneta 2-0.