By Jason Wesseldyk
PARCHMENT—Second-year Otsego volleyball coach Kelsey Swoboda often talks about her team’s competitive spirit.
And that competitiveness was on full display during the Bulldogs’ regional semifinal against Parma Western on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
After losing the first set 26-24, Otsego bounced back to win three straight sets and claim the 24-26, 25-19, 25-17, 25-19 victory.
“This has always been a team with a ton of fight,” Swoboda said. “These girls just have such a competitive spirit. They thrive on playing for each other and celebrating each other.
“They have never backed down from a challenge and that has been what has won us a lot of big games throughout the whole season, including tonight.”
The Bulldogs easily could have allowed the letdown from the first set to carry over. After all, Otsego led 24-22 and needed just one point to take a 1-0 lead.
But PW rallied to score four straight points and seemingly snag the momentum.
Much of Otsego’s struggles in the first set were self-inflicted, according to Swoboda.
“We made 15 errors in the first set,” she said. “That’s hard to overcome. So, we knew going into the second set that we were going to have to be better at controlling our side of the net if we wanted the outcome to change.”
The Bulldogs did just that, largely controlling the tempo of the match throughout the final three sets.
“We had to shut down their strongest attackers,” Swoboda said. “Once we did that, we also had to control our side of the net and put the ball away offensively.”
Aly Aldrich led Otsego’s defensive effort, racking up a team-topping 33 digs. She also served up a pair of aces to tie Bella Mccamman and Maddy Littel for team-high honors in that department.
Brooke Smalldon had 23 digs to go with a team-best 16 kills, while Mccamman added 11 kills and 20 digs. Olivia Dennis joined Smalldon and Mccamman with double-digit kills, as she went for 11.
Dennis also had led Otsego with five blocks.
Littel finished with 43 assists and seven digs; Jessie Bradford had four kills and four blocks; Tessa Prough had six kills; and Cassie Holland had 17 digs.
“After the first set, we settled into the game plan and executed just that,” Swoboda said.