Marion Local fends off New Knoxville in four for district title

VAN WERT — The New Knoxville volleyball team made the defending state champions work for their latest district championship.

The Rangers gave the top-ranked Marion Local Flyers all they could handle for three games before the Flyers emerged with a 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-9 win in the  Division IV district championship game at Van Wert.

New Knoxville vs. Marion Local district final volleyball:

Marion Local didn’t want to leave its tournament fate up to the unpredictability of a fifth game as it found itself tied at 1-1 and trailing by five points to New Knoxville early in the third game on Wednesday night.

“I just told them that this was a key moment for our team,” Marion Local head coach Amy Steininger said. “We needed to come back and win that third set so we could win it in four. We knew if we lost that third set, we were going to have to five to win the championship.  I just really challenged the seniors to get a good pass, a good set, because when we were getting the ball up to our hitters, they were putting the ball away more often than not.”

The Rangers made the Flyers sweat out the win. New Knoxville rallied from a five-point deficit and got six straight points to surge to the second-game win.

“We did everything right in the second game,” New Knoxville head coach Jill Roode said. “I don’t think we had any service errors, the hitting was very consistent. They just were playing consistent, hard ball the entire time.”

Meg Reineke led New Knoxville with 13 kills. Madison Lammers added six kills and a team-best three aces and 43 digs. Haley Horstman had five kills. Kalyn Schroer had 37 digs. Jenna Schwieterman had four kills.

Marion Local will play the winner of Russia and Jackson Center on Thursday, Oct. 31 at Tipp City Tippecanoe High School at 6 p.m. The winner of Fort Loramie-Fayettteville Perry will face the winner of Sidney Lehman-Springfield Catholic in the 7:30 p.m. game on Halloween night at Tippecanoe.

Marion Local is two wins away from returning to the state’s final four for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.