DELPHOS — Winning does not equal satisfaction.
Despite Columbus Grove winning a three-set match, against Delphos Jefferson, 25-16, 25-21, 25-17, and posting its fourth straight win, Bulldog head coach Kim Birnesser was not a happy camper after the win Thursday night.
“Our front row probably struggled getting some blocks,” Birnesser said.”We didn’t have any blocks until the third set and normally we have some every set so we struggled on the front row with blocking and we probably had some miscommunication in the back row defense but its a win but there is always room for improvement.”
Birnesser’s concerns come on the heels of her team’s third match in three days, including a big five-set win over Crestview Tuesday. The Bulldog mentor understands that even though the Bulldogs garnered the win, the season will continue to be more difficult if they continue to make the myriad of mistakes they made against Jefferson.
“I think they were was a little letdown for sure,” Birnesser said. “We didn’t play to our potential. Our front row had a hard time putting it away and finding a spot on the court to put it away. It is just execution and executing every night. But the thing is this is varsity and you have got to come to compete. No excuses. So our drive and our focus is to compete every night.”
Columbus Grove improves to 6-3 overall and 2-0 in Northwest Conference action. Delphos Jefferson falls to 1-8 and 0-2 in league play.
In the win, Lauren Birkemeier recorded 15 kills to lead the Bulldogs. Peyton Brubaker had six kills with three blocks. Bulldog sophomore Rylee Sybert had 18 assists and Danielle Caudill collected 18 digs. Hayley Radabaugh had three aces.
Delphos Jefferson head coach Sherrie Stewart watched her club, which has been beset by injuries early in the season, give a gutsy performance despite being out manned and overwhelmed by a Bulldog squad with plenty of talent.
“That is the best that we have played all year,” Stewart said. “We have been dealing with a lot of injuries this year and we are just starting to get everybody back and everybody started clicking and doing what they needed to do.”
Stewart added that she saw a lot of communication from her team and that is something the Wildcats can build on as the season moves forward.
In the loss, Danielle Haman had 13 kills, five digs and aces. Macy Wallace added 10 kills and nine digs and Sarah Miller had five kills. Courtney Teman had 21 assists.
In the first set, the two battled evenly and the score was tied 10-10. But the Bulldogs, thanks to the outside hitting of Birkemeier and some unforced errors by the Wildcats, went on a 7-1 run to open up a 17-11 advantage. With the six point cushion, the Bulldogs staved off any type of comeback by the Wildcats and cruised to the 25-17 win.
Columbus Grove appeared to have things working midway through the second set after building up 14-9 lead, but the pesky Wildcat squad fought back to cut the lead to 17-14, however, the Bulldogs, behind some timely kills by Haley Radabaugh, opened up a six-point lead. But as Birnesser pointed out, the inconsistent play reared its ugly head, and the Wildcats trimmed the lead to three, 22-19, before eventually putting the game away at 25-21.
The inconsistency and mental miscues were more evident in the third set. Columbus Grove opened up a 10-6 lead but once again due to some sloppy play and some excellent play by Jeffeson’s Hartman, the Wildcats scored three unanswered points to cut the lead back to one. In that run, Hartman recorded back-to-back aces. The match remained tight and was tied at 17-17 but that is when Jefferson’s talent took over and the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to garner the set and the match.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter @JoseNogueras1