BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — Maumee’s volleyball team fought back from a 0-2 deficit to post a 16-25, 30-32, 25-19, 25-15, 15-13 victory at Anthony Wayne on September 20.
The win avenged an 11-25, 18-25, 23-25 loss to the Generals from August 28.
“When we first saw AW, it was out first real test against a big hitting and blocking team,” said Maumee coach Lindsay Vannett. “We were adjusting all night to the timing and speed of their hitters. By the end of the night, we were right on, but it took all three sets to figure them out.
“Tonight, we have now played several teams that have their caliber of hitters. We are better defensively and our blocks are better set for our defense. We are ready to handle the bigger matchup. Our defensive adjustments are helping us, not just with Anthony Wayne, but for the league as a whole.”
AW jumped out to an immediate 6-0 lead with the help of assists by junior Libby Ludwig and sophomore Morgan Lee and kills from senior Taylor Case and sophomore Eva McClure.
The Generals still led by six points when they began to pull away after the 15-9 point.
Ludwig and Russell combined with seniors Maddy Contat and Maya Vogel and sophomore Taylor Russell to push the score to 23-13 before ultimately topping the set off with a pair of assists from Lee – one to Ludwig and the last to junior Ainsley Page.
Anthony Wayne carried that success over into the second set by taking an instant 8-2 lead on assists by senior Olivia Womack to Page and Russell and five consecutive aces from junior Hanna Sugg.
This time, however, Maumee battled back to tie things up at 11-11 on two aces and a pair of assists by senior Nicole Archambeau, two kills and an ace from sophomore Brynn Brown and another kill by junior Ashlee Arndt.
“We talk all the time about effort – effort behind everything you are trying to do,” Vannett said. “When we were committed to giving our all, good things happened. We were dead in the first set – watching balls hit the floor without any attempts to get them, not covering our hitters and not aggressively serving.
“That all changed in set No. 2. We put ourselves in a position to win – just by giving effort.”
The remainder of the set was a dogfight, as AW’s Lee, Ludwig, McClure, Page, Russell, Sugg and Womack battled the Panthers’ Archambeau, Arndt, Brown, seniors Jamyson Butler and Brianna Zattau and juniors Chloe Bunce and Jessica Perrault to a dozen more ties before the opposing squads were deadlocked at 30-30.
From there, the Generals took a one-point lead on an assist from Ludwig to Page before McClure put the set away with a block and a kill.
Now trailing 2-0 after the long second set, Maumee refused to give up.
Instead, Archambeau, Brown, Bunce, Butler, Perrault and Zattau exchanged even blows with Anthony Wayne’s Contat, Lee, Ludwig, McClure, Page, Russell and Sugg until the scoreboard read 16-16.
A Brown ace put the Panthers on top for good shortly thereafter, and Maumee was able to open things up with assists from Brown to senior Lexi Uscilowski and freshman Jolie Sobb, an assist from Archambeau to Brown and a set-winning ace by Archam-beau.
Now down 2-1, the Panthers’ Archambeau, Brown, Butler, Perrault and Sobb scrapped with the Generals’ Lee, Ludwig, McClure, Russell, Vogel and Womack through nine more ties to start the fourth set.
Another assist from Archambeau to Brown eventually gave Maumee an 11-10 lead – an advantage the Panthers were determined to keep.
AW managed to stick within a point of the Panthers all the way up to a 16-15 score, but it was all Maumee from there.
Brown, Butler, Perrault and Zattau scored the only remaining four points not coming from a hitting error or violation.
Having already witnessed 30 ties up to this point, fans in attendance from both sides were almost certainly expecting a close fifth set.
They were not disappointed, as no lead in the final set ever grew above two points.
Following nine separate lead changes due to points by the Generals’ deep bench of Contat, Lee, Ludwig, McClure, Page, Russell, Vogel, Womack and senior Lauren Turney and the Panthers’ Archambeau, Brown, Bunce, Butler, Perrault and Sobb, Maumee took the match’s final lead on Archambeau’s 19th assist to Brown.
The match then ended on an Anthony Wayne violation.
“I told the girls before set No. 3, ‘This is usually our talk in the locker room saying that we were right in it the last set. Well, that happened in set No. 2,’” Vannett said.
“We made adjustments. We executed. We won. Mentalities are shifting and confidence is building. We’re turning close matches into wins. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Brown led the Panthers by racking up 21 kills, 20 digs, 13 assists, five aces and a block.
“Brynn makes a great impact on our team,” Vannett said. “We weren’t sure if she would be back front row yet (due to an offseason injury). I expected to play the first half of the season with just her setting. The first four matches were just that – her setting. We were 2-2 after the first week.
“We entered league play and I asked her how she was feeling about front row. ‘I’m ready’ were her words back. Her being on the floor for six rotations changes our team. She brings consistency. She brings variety in the sense that I can change setters around to help when in a slump.
“She is one of our best blockers and offensively is averaging 11 kills per match, with her having two matches with over 20 kills. She is a very dynamic player and not one we find often to play as many roles as she does.”
Archambeau added 27 assists, six digs and three aces, Butler totaled 23 digs and 10 kills and Bunce posted 21 digs, two aces and an assist.
“Chloe has been so consistent this season,” Vannett said. “She gives her all – and her body – on every opportunity she gets. She is so quick on the floor that I don’t worry if a ball is going to hit the floor around her. She will be there.
“When I talked about effort before, I never have questioned hers. What you see in matches from her, I see in practice daily. She practices how she wants to play and is always ready. I have been very proud of the progress she has made this year and the leading example she demonstrates daily.”
Perrault recorded an additional seven kills, three blocks and three digs, Sobb had four kills and four digs, Zattau chipped in four blocks, two digs and a kill, Arndt notched three kills and Uscilowski contributed two assists and a kill.
“I cannot speak more highly of the improvement Jessica has made over the last year,” Vannett said. “Last year, she was the top middle on the junior varsity team with limited playing on varsity. She worked hard in the offseason playing beach volleyball with a local club, and really has developed her coordination, her arm swing mechanics and her ability to read the floor.
“She works hard every day and is a very vocal leader on our team. She brings a positive intensity that raises the bar of the people that surround her. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this season and the whole next year will bring her.”
Ludwig paced the Generals with 22 assists, seven kills and two blocks.
Russell next totaled 18 kills and three blocks, Page added 12 kills and five blocks, McClure had 10 kills and six blocks and Lee recorded 15 assists.
Sugg (seven aces), Womack (five assists, two kills), Vogel (six kills), Turney (two kills, two blocks), Contat (two aces, assist), senior Taylor Case (kill) and junior Abby Martin (block) also contributed to the AW effort.
The Generals were without injured sophomore Lauren Curry, who gave them eight kills at Maumee earlier in the season.
The Panthers improved to 7-8 (3-5 in Northern Lakes League play) with the win and Anthony Wayne dropped to 8-4 (4-4) with the close loss.