BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — Maumee’s volleyball team fought back from a 2-1 deficit to improve to 14-6 with a 25-19, 19-25, 27-29, 25-22, 15-12 victory over visiting Springfield on October 3.
The win gave coach Lindsay Vannett’s Panthers a 6-6 Northern Lakes League mark with two more conference games to go against Napoleon and Perrysburg.
That’s the most league victories Maumee has posted since coach Gretchen Brown’s 2004 team went 9-5 (17-6 overall) en route to a district finals run.
“I can’t explain how proud I am to be this team’s coach,” Vannett said. “The heart, the resilience and the camaraderie they have is next to none with teams in the past. They, as a whole, are one of the most fluid teams I have coached in a long time.
“So, to get this win when we had a little slump for the last two weeks helps build our confidence going forward into next week with Napoleon and Perrysburg, and eventually into tournament play.”
Fittingly, it was Brown’s daughter Brynn that led the Panthers to their latest comeback win over the Blue Devils, as the junior setter racked up 31 assists, 15 kills, five aces and two blocks.
Brown recorded six of those assists and three kills while joining senior middle blocker Jessica Perrault, sophomore outside hitter Jolie Sobb and freshman setter Camy Wedge in battling Springfield outside hitter Taylor Baldwin, fellow senior and middle blocker Maya Emmons and classmate and libero Ashley Semler and junior defensive specialist Taylor Bombick to a 16-16 tie in the opening set.
Sobb put Maumee on top for good with an ensuing ace before the Panthers closed the set out with another assist from Wedge to Brown, two Brown aces, a Perrault kill and a third Brown ace.
Having already played to nine ties, the teams played to seven more before finding themselves tied up at 17-17.
Junior libero Beth Brady and classmate and right side hitter Maddie Kontak joined Brown, Perrault, Sobb and Wedge to put the Panthers points on the board up to that point, and Springfield saw continued offensive production from Baldwin, Bombick, Emmons and Semler, as well as senior outside hitter Morgan Green, sophomore setter Maddie Darrah and classmate and middle blocker Sydney Schwieterman.
Another assist from Darrah to Baldwin eventually gave the Blue Devils an 18-17 lead and Springfield quickly slammed the door with two kills and an ace from Baldwin, three Darrah assists, two kills and a block by Green and another kill by Emmons.
With Maumee and the Blue Devils now knotted up at 1-1, the night’s third set proved to be the most competitive.
After the Panthers’ Brady, Brown, Perrault, Sobb, Wedge, senior opposite side hitter Ashlee Arndt and freshman middle blocker Katelyn Owens fought Springfield’s Baldwin, Bombick, Darrah, Emmons, Green and Schwieterman to a deadlock at 27-27, the Blue Devils took the lead on another Emmons kill before a Baldwin ace ended the set.
Now trailing 2-1, Maumee found itself down 21-20 in a fourth set that saw five more ties up to that point, thanks to timely plays by the Panthers’ Brown, Owens, Perrault, Sobb, Wedge and senior defensive specialist Chloe Bunce and the Blue Devils’ Baldwin, Darrah, Emmons, Green, Schwieterman, Semler and senior opposite side hitter Avery Fleischmann.
Following a pair of Springfield errors, though, the Panthers and Blue Devils exchanged points on an assist from Wedge to Brown and an Emmons kill.
With Maumee on top 23-22, a fifth set was forced when Springfield made another hitting error before committing a crucial violation.
The final set was played as competitively as the first four, with the Panthers’ Arndt, Brown, Kontak, Perrault, Sobb and Wedge combatting the Blue Devils’ Baldwin, Bombick, Darrah and Emmons to five more ties before pushing things to a 9-9 score.
Maumee responded with four straight points on a Perrault kill, an assist from Sobb to Brown, a Brown ace and an assist from Brown to Kontak.
Brown again set up Sobb to give the Panthers a 14-10 advantage and later followed an assist from Semler to Baldwin with another hookup – this one for the win.
“Jolie’s development over the last two years has been a 360-degree change, to say the least,” Vannett said. “She has gotten involved in club at a high level and has had some of the best training. We had to fine tune some of the details of her game play, such as timing and positioning issues, but she is just a different player this season.
“With Jolie and Brynn, we continually have a strong attack all around on the floor and it has helped in bigger games take some of the pressure off of her and some of our younger and inexperienced players. She is one to watch going forward because she has a big upswing with the work ethic to back it up.”
Brown ended up totaling 33 assists, 21 digs, 15 kills, five aces and a block, Sobb racked up 22 digs, 18 kills and four aces and Brady recorded an impressive 30 digs and added three assists and an ace.
“Beth has been amazing in the libero position,” Vannett said. “She sees the floor and anticipates the hitters’ moves to have her hands on most balls in her area. Tonight at one point, she looked at my setters and said, ‘I am going to make sure that these balls get where they are supposed to so you don’t have to work so hard.’
“She made good on her promise and came up with some key digs and serve receive balls that allowed us to generate better offensive options. She has only been in the position for two years. She was a setter and a hitter before that and she is just a natural player. She is definitely a huge reason we are finding success.”
Wedge also had a big game with 20 assists, eight digs, three aces and a kill, Perrault posted 14 kills, two blocks and a dig, Bunce contributed 14 digs and two aces, Kontak recorded 10 digs and four kills, Arndt notched six digs, two kills and a block and Owens chipped in four kills, two blocks and a dig.
Baldwin paced Springfield with 29 kills, 15 digs, four aces and a block, Green added 22 digs, eight kills, five blocks and three aces and Bombick totaled 17 assists and 13 digs.
Additionally, Semler gave the Blue Devils 25 digs, three assists and an ace, Darrah posted 17 assists, five digs and three aces, Emmons had six blocks, four digs and two kills and sophomore middle blocker Markiya Cunningham chipped in six blocks and four digs.
Springfield was without talented freshman setter Corrie Brown due to a knee injury.
Maumee’s next two games will come on the road at Bowling Green and Perrysburg.
The Yellow Jackets carry an overall record of 19-1 and have been perfect in the NLL at 12-0. They topped the Panthers, 25-21, 25-22, 28-26, on September 17.
“We get another shot at Perrysburg in the last (regular season) match of the year and I can’t wait to see what the outcome could be at the end of the night,” Vannett said.
Maumee 3, BG 0
Two days earlier, the Panthers played to their 13th win with a 25-23, 25-20, 25-5 match over Bowling Green.
Brown again led the way, this time with 21 assists, 18 digs, 15 kills and three aces.
Sobb added 13 digs, nine kills, two aces and an assist, Wedge totaled 17 assists, three digs, an ace and a kill and Brady recorded 18 digs, an ace and an assist.
In addition, Arndt posted five kills, two blocks and two digs, Bunce notched eight digs and an ace, Perrault had four blocks, four kills and a dig, Kontak contributed five kills, two digs and a block and Owens finished with four kills and two digs.
Maumee 3, Delta 0
The Panthers began their latest winning streak with a 25-11, 25-13, 25-11 match over Delta on September 28.
This time around, Brown racked up 14 kills, 13 assists, 10 digs and four aces, Wedge added 15 assists, five digs, three aces and three kills and Arndt totaled five kills, four digs and three aces.
Additionally, Owens posted seven kills, an ace and a dig, Perrault notched six kills and a block, Kontak had three digs, two blocks and two kills and Bunce finished with two aces, two digs and an assist.
Southview 3, Maumee 0
The Cougars evened the season series at 1-1 with a 25-22, 25-16, 25-18 over Maumee on September 24.
Brown paced the Panthers with 13 digs, 12 assists, five kills, an ace and a block, Sobb added 13 digs, six kills and a block, Wedge totaled nine assists, four digs and three aces and Brady posted eight digs, an ace and an assist.
Bunce tacked on another six digs, Perrault contributed five kills and a block, Owens had four kills, a block and a dig, Arndt chipped in two digs and a kill and Kontak ended up with a kill and a dig.