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February 23, 2020

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Volleyball: Bluffton outlasts Ada spikers

Light led Ada with a career-high 25 kills; She also added seven digs and two aces

By Cort Reynolds
ADA - Despite playing its fourth match in four nights, the visiting Bluffton volleyball team won a tough four-set match in a very steamy gym at feisty Northwest Conference rival Ada Thursday night.

The Lady Pirates prevailed 25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23 to improve to 7-3 overall and 2-0 NWC after their third victory in a row. The spunky Lady Bulldogs fell to 4-6 and 0-3 in the NWC with their third consecutive loss to a tough opponent.

"I thought we had momentum heading into the fourth set, but we have to be able to finish," said Ada head coach Kyleigh Tabor. "We have to be able to side out."

Bluffton overcame the fatigue of playing four nights in a row after a lapse in the third set and the first part of the fourth game as Ada surged.

"Playing four nights in a row in a hot gym with a great crowd was tough, but it was a fun atmosphere," said Pirate mentor Kevin King. "We are young but we are playing up to our potential.

"I thought we had them (after being up 2-0) but didn't put them away," he continued. "Ada is a good, very scrappy team and they got everything back we hit at them."

Bluffton led 22-19 in set one before Ada hit long, and another error got it to set point. Junior middle Megan Light's back row kill bounced in off the net to keep Ada alive, 24-20.

Libero Kendal Guagenti made a diving save to dig up a Pirate attack on set point, but Ada could not get it back over the net and fell 25-20.

"We got off to a slow start in the first set, which seems to be a pattern," Tabor noted.

The Bulldogs led 3-1 early in set two. Bluffton rallied back in front 10-6 behind the hitting of senior Libby Schaadt and athletic 6-0 sophomore Kylie Stackhouse.

Ada edged within 12-10 but the Pirates spurted back ahead 17-11. Another fine save by Guagenti and a good pass by Kylie Acheson led to a Light kill as the Bulldogs crept within 18-16.

A big Stackhouse kill ended a rally yet the Pirates served long for a 20-17 lead. An inside-out kill by Schaadt made it a four-point edge. The teams traded serving errors and Ada won a long rally. A Josie Poling kill hit the back line to inch the hosts within 22-20.

A Bulldog pass sailed wide, yet Kirsten Poling came up two-handed block kill to cut the deficit to 23-21. Stackhouse came up big with a huge kill to reach game point. After a long rally, Ada hit wide to fall behidn 2-0 by a 25-21 count.

A Stackhouse ace put Bluffton ahead 7-5 early in set three, but Ada pulled in front on a Light ace 8-7. Then after a long rally, Acheson's kill landed inside the back line for a 10-7 Bulldog lead.

A kill by Light and a two-hand tip by Kirsten Poling kept Ada on top, 12-9. After a Pirate setting error, freshman Courtney Sumner fired an ace to go up 14-9.

A tip by Schwab plus two kills and a tip from Stackhouse cut it to 16-14. A clean kill by the sophomore standout sliced the lead to one. Stackhouse tied it on a kill and the athletic Schwab came up with a nice diving dig.

A one-hand tip by Stackhouse put the Pirates in front, but then they hit into the net to tie it. Later on, a Light kill just inside the sideline and a Pirate miscue tied it 20-20.

Acheson fired an ace and followed that with another good serve that was not returned. A Schwab hitting error gave the Bulldogs a 23-20 lead.

Schwab came up with a big hit to stop the Ada spurt, yet the teams traded errors to get the hosts to set point. After a Bulldog error, Pirate sophomore Kylie Monday served an ace on the back line to inch within 24-23.

Tabor called timeout and Ada regrouped. Kirsten Poling came up with a clutch clean kill to a small opening in the back between a pair of diving Pirates to clinch the third set, 25-23.

"Kirsten had a nice hit at the end of the set," Tabor agreed.

"Our inexperience and maybe some fatigue showed at the end of the third set," said King.

Inspired by the win and a boisterous home crowd, Ada ran out to a 6-3 lead in set four. Guagenti's ace and a Pirate hitting miscue extended their biggest lead to 8-3.

Three Schwab kills got Bluffton back in striking distance, down 12-9. Two Stackhouse slams offset a pair of Light kills. A Light tip made it 14-11, and her clean kill on the back line moments later kept the purple and gold ahead 16-14.

A Monday kill off a Bulldog block dropped in, and then Ada hit wide to tie 16-all. Schwab found the sideline to prompt a Bullog timeout. The Pirates then served long to tie it 17-17.

Schwab then placed a fine hit to the open back corner to give Bluffton the lead by one.

"Stackhouse and Schwab are our go-to hitters," said King.

With Cara Young serving the visitors spurted ahead, 21-17. But Ada would not give up. A Light kill cut it to 22-20. Another Light kill was tipped out off the net top to pull the Bulldogs within 22-21.

A rare Stackhouse error on a long hit knotted it up, 22-22. A good Kirsten Poling serve was not returned and Ada edged in front 23-22.

Stackhouse responded with a big clean kill to tie it one last time. Another Stackhouse slam bounced out of bounds off a Bulldog blocker to reach match point.

Bluffton went to its meal ticket Stackhouse again, and she knocked down a clean line-drive kill into a small opening in the center back row to clinch the hard-fought win, 25-23.

"Stackhouse and Schwab are solid hitters," noted Tabor. "I am proud of our effort, especially with Madison getting sick to her stomach midway through the match. We had to make some adjustments; Courtney came in and did a nice job serving."

Light led Ada with a career-high 25 kills. She also added seven digs and two aces.

Wills contributed five kills and 25 digs. Kirsten Poling dished up 21 assists, made 14 digs and added three blocks.

Libero Guagenti made 27 digs, many of the acrobatic variety. Madison contributed seven assists, two blocks and eight digs despite taking ill in the heat during set two. Acheson hit two kills and dealt a pair of aces. Josie Poling made seven digs, and Sumner added one ace.

Stackhouse paced the victors with 31 kills and four aces. Junior Schwab hammered 15 kills and hustled up 24 digs.

Sophomore setter Skyler Scoles doled out 34 assists while classmate Cara Young passed out 15 assists.

Pirate senior Joscelin Reineke came up with 21 digs. Sophie Bricker and Monday each added two aces.

The Bluffton reserves also beat the Ada JV, 2-0.

Ada plays at backyard league rival Allen East (4-1) Tuesday, Sept. 17. "It will be a very competitive match," said Tabor. "I think the NWC as a whole is very solid with no easy matches."

The Lady Pirates play in the eight-team Lima OIO Tournament Saturday to finsh out a busy seven-match week. Bluffton will face Northwood in the OIO first round Saturday, then likely play Bryan in round two.

The Pirates then host perennial league power Crestview (5-1, 1-0 NWC) Sept. 17.