Two Warrior tribes waged a fierce battle for a 2A volleyball regional championship and an extension of their 2013 campaign Tuesday night in Emma.
When the dust had settled, the visitors from Woodlan emerged victorious over Westview by a score of 26-24, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20. It is the second regional title for the school located in Woodburn of Allen County, the last coming in 2007.
As for Westview, Tuesday’s result marked the second straight year in which it came up short in the regional. In 2012, coach Heidi Brohm’s squad fell to Woodlan’s ACAC rival Adams Central in three games.
“We’re very close to breaking through,” said Brohm, whose fifth Westview team finished 25-10. “Tonight we just made a few too many errors and Woodlan took advantage of them.”
The senior outside hitters Tori Bontrager and Burgundy Price carried most of the fight for Woodlan, combining for 56 kills. Bontrager had eight in the first set, helping to rally her club to a two-point win.
Westview raced to an 18-6 lead in the second game behind the hitting and blocking of senior Breann Bushong. Woodlan erased all of that difference with a furious comeback, but a pair of kills by sophomore Grace Hales and one each from classmate Maria McCoy and senior Rachel Johns put the second game in Westview’s column.
“We read their hitters much better and played much more fundamentally sound in the second game,” said Brohm.
The critical third game again went down to the wire. Woodlan saw its 23-19 lead carved to one when a kill by McCoy, an ace by sophomore Alexis Hostetler and a tip-kill by Johns fueled a three-point Westview swing. However, a costly communication error by the hosts prevented them from tying the set. Bontrager then pounded down a kill to secure the winning point.
Woodlan scored the final five points of the fourth game to nail down the match and the regional crown. Fittingly, it was Bontrager (a kill and an ace) and Price (three kills) who accounted for each of the clinching points.
Topping the Westview attack chart with 12 kills apiece were Bushong and McCoy. Johns followed with seven.
Both Bushong and Hostetler served up two aces, while sophomore Makai Gingerich supplied 36 assists. Johns piled up 22 digs, Hostetler 14 digs and Bushong five blocks.
Despite losing leaders such as Bushong and Johns, the Westview program appears to be on solid footing with the scheduled return of six sophomore contributors, including four starters. “We’ll be a year smarter, wiser and stronger going into next season,” said Brohm. “This group has just scratched the surface of what they are capable of accomplishing.”
Woodlan (25-7) meets Southwood (26-10) this Saturday in the 2A semi-state at Bremen. Madison-Grant (26-9) squares off against Hammond Noll (28-9) in the first semifinal match at 11 a.m. The championship tilt is slated for 6 p.m.