By Jeremy Schneider
There were no secrets what Thursday’s volleyball match against Bowling Green meant for Maumee. Panthers coach Lindsay Vannett made sure of that.
Tied with BG and Southview in the Northern Lakes League standings entering the night and sitting two games back of the three-team jam in first place, a win in Thursday’s match would keep every goal in play for the Panthers.
After stubbing their toe in the first set, the Panthers rallied to win three straight for a 3-1 win (14-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-21) over the Bobcats.
Now 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the NLL, Maumee is only two games back of Perrysburg and Northview in the league standings and one game behind Anthony Wayne.
“I said it to my assistants before this match, ‘If we can get through Bowling Green and get ourselves re-energized after our loss to Anthony Wayne last week and our loss to Northview, I think we’ll be sitting in a much better spot mentally and the girls will continue to believe that their goals can be achieved,” Vannett said.
“That was one thing I talked to them about before the third set. … I said, ‘You guys realize that winning this game tonight keeps you right in with the rest of the league, sitting right in with the top.'”
Perrysburg topped Anthony Wayne in three sets Thursday, while Northview beat Springfield 3-0 as well.
The Panthers have everything laid out in front of them to challenge for the NLL title, and it’ll come down to a two-week stretch. Perrysburg visits on Sept. 17, followed by the rematch with the Generals on Sept. 19. Maumee travels to Southview on Sept. 24, and hosts Northview on Sept. 26.
But none of that would matter as much had Maumee lost to Bowling Green.
The Panthers came out flat against Bowling Green, and Vannett figured that might have been a carryover from Tuesday’s 3-1 loss at Northview.
After the first set, Vannett reminded her team about the work they’ve been doing in practice to reduce their errors and get better at their first contact. As has been the case through much of the season, the Panthers responded to her in-game coaching.
“They looked nervous, even in warm-ups,” Vannett said. “The vibe wasn’t right during warm-ups, and there some hesitation there as well.
“Once they saw the energy and momentum swing that happened to BG right away, it was a repeat of, oh my gosh, it’s a repeat of Tuesday. They needed a second to realize, it’s not Tuesday, it’s a new night, and we need to have a different mindset.”
But after winning a tight second set, Maumee rolled to a dominant win in the third and built an insurmountable lead in the fourth for the match win.
Brynn Brown led the way with 14 kills, three aces, three blocks, 15 digs, and 19 assists. Jolie Sobb had 10 kills, three aces, and 10 digs.
Katelyn Owens and Jessica Perrault helped keep the play strong at the net. Perrault had four blocks, and Owens added four kills and three blocks.
Chloe Bunce had 15 digs, and Camy Wedge had 15 assists and nine digs.
The Panthers return to action Saturday when they travel to Swanton. Varsity is scheduled to start at 11 a.m., after their freshman and junior varsity teams play.