SYRACUSE – Odds were Thursday night it would be a numbers game in the volleyball tussle between Wawasee and Plymouth. The magical number was three, and the visiting Pilgrims dialed up a key run when it had to in beating the host Lady Warriors, 3-2, in a roller coaster ride.
Plymouth made it count in the odd games, taking the first 25-14, the third 26-24 and the fifth 15-5 while Wawasee claimed the even numbers, winning game two 25-20 and game four 25-19.
The way Plymouth got the win was through a series of runs, opening the night with a 4-0 lead right out of the gate and running to a 19-8 cushion before Wawasee seemed to snap out of it. Game three was much of the same, with Plymouth taking a 14-4 lead much in the same fashion it did in the first game, playing steady defense while Wawasee remained unorganized defensively and sheepish at the net.
A furious rally in the third game had Wawasee tie the score at 24, but a service error followed by a Plymouth ace put the visitors in command with the crucial game point.
“We really struggled tonight with our middle attack, but we had it going at times and that was a big difference maker for us,” said Plymouth head coach Doug West. “We were able to keep their big kids in the middle quiet, which we knew was going to be a tough task.”
Wawasee would stretch out a 21-13 lead in game four by doing the exact opposite of what it had done earlier in the night. A great defensive effort on the back line by Aly Anderson, who led the team with 26 digs, slowed Plymouth’s offense while the net play of Wawasee began to pick up. Kills by Addison Ayres (seven total) and Meghan Fretz (six total) helped energize the Lady Warriors, who found themselves all of a sudden playing for the win after what initially looked to be a very short evening.
“I told the girls after the fourth game, ‘You’re good enough to compete’, but then we talk in the lockerroom after a loss and it’s ‘But do you believe that?” stated Wawasee head coach Jeff Phillips. “In your mind, does that percent of belief equal 100? Because when we’re down in game five, if it’s not 100, likely there is doubt of messing it up. And that is the difference between teams that really think they can win and teams that should win against teams that just think they can win and don’t believe it. I really think that’s where we were tonight.”
But the bugaboo Wawasee suffered from in game one reappeared in the fifth game, with Plymouth having success doing whatever it wanted while Wawasee’s organization fell apart. Plymouth jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fifth game, then 9-3 after Cassi Quissell hammered home her ninth kill of the night. One point later, Hunter Stevens blocked her fifth attempt of the night and Plymouth was on its way to its seventh win in 10 chances this season.
The Harrell sisters – Haley and Ashley – combined for 32 digs while Haley assisted on 33 points for Plymouth. Teammate McKenzie Scheetz, just a 5-foot-7 freshman, led all competitors with 12 kills.
“Cassi is one of our captains and really loves to compete,” West said of the senior Quissell. “She really did a good job all throughout the match. She really hustled all over the court and was a key to us getting the win.”
Becca Anderson led Wawasee (6-5, 0-1 NLC) with nine kills while Alli Ousley added 24 assists, eight kills, two aces and 1.5 blocks. Madi Wilson helped the defense with 14 digs.
“There really wasn’t any moment where I looked at someone and said I have to pull them, they are why we are losing, it was more a matter of just bad errors,” Phillips said. “It was the bad errors that stacked up and Plymouth really didn’t have to do anything special other than get a free point. We need to limit those mistakes, which was really the one thing that stood out to me.”
The Plymouth JV were equal to the task, beating Wawasee 25-17, 25-20. For Wawasee (7-3), Skylar Janda had four kills and two aces while Amy Beer had three assists and three aces. Hannah Marie Lamle added three blocks.
Wawasee will get a week to work out the kinks before taking on Goshen next Thursday while Plymouth will play South Bend Clay Tuesday night.