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Willard rallies to beat state-ranked Huron in five

By JOSH MORGRET • Oct 12, 2017 at 11:16 PM

Willard volleyball coach Justin Rohrer thought there was a chance his team might have peaked already.

He was also pleased to know how the Crimson Flashes have won 10 of their last 11 matches.

Behind a historic night from juniors Lydia Wiers and Jena Adams, Willard pulled off an improbable comeback, topping state-ranked Huron, 20-25, 20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-12, in a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay division match.

Wiers set a school-record with a whopping 31 kills, topping her own record of 28. Adams' 51 assists is also a school-record, breaking the old mark by five.

"When we can set the ball, pass the ball, and get it to Lydia — her kill percentage is over 50," Rohrer said. "So, over half of the time the ball touches her hand, it is a kill, which is a crazy-high number. I thought her block after the second game also picked up and helped lead us."

Willard improved to 18-4 overall, while Huron fell to 14-8. Both schools finish at 9-3 in conference play, good for second place behind Oak Harbor (12-0).

Huron defeated Willard earlier in the season, also in five games. The Tigers took a 25-20, 15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 15-7 decision on Sept. 19 in Willard.

"We really wanted to keep our energy up and stay positive," Wiers said. "To play with Huron and beat them is great. I love to play the game. To get the kills is great, but it is for the team. I am happy with how we played tonight."

The Flashes built an early lead in Game 5, then had to withstand a run by Huron. A service error by the Tigers increased the Willard lead to 7-3 as Huron coach Don Wood called timeout. Two more points by the Flashes out of the timeout pushed the lead to six, but the Tigers would not go quietly.

A kill by McKenna Schafer, coupled with a Willard error cut the lead to four points. Later, Olivia Lagando blasted consecutive kills and followed that with a block, prompting Rohrer into a timeout, leading 11-10.

The Flashes responded with two straight points before another Wood timeout. A service error and kill by Lagando got the Tigers within 13-12, but Wiers smacked her last kill, and added her sixth block to seal the win.

"I feel like I let my team down a little bit," said Wood, a Norwalk graduate. "We are supposed to be better this time around than the first time we played Willard. It was Willard that was obviously better this time around. We were not. When that happens, it is on the coach — not the kids."

It was all Huron early on. Despite Cassidy Crawford serving for the first five points, the Tigers slowly clawed their way back into the opening game. A kill by Wiers maintained the Willard lead at 17-13, but Huron responded with a 7-1 run for a lead. A net violation and two Willard errors gave Huron Game 1.

In the second game, it was Huron that led the entire game, but never relented.

But, unlike hundreds of other Huron wins, it was not smooth sailing from there. Crawford again served the first five points giving Willard an early lead it never relinquished.

Wood had exhausted both of his timeouts in the first 11 points as his team trailed 8-3. The Flashes pushed the lead up to 13-7 before Huron scored the next four points. The two-point deficit was the closest the Tigers would get, but it was Willard, behind the right arms of Crawford and Wiers that did the damage.

Wiers had four kills, added a block, and Crawford put down two kills — including the one to give Willard the win in Game 3, slicing the Huron lead in half.

"It is emotionally tough. The emotion and energy you have to play with and sustain for that period of time is hard to do," said Rohrer of a comeback.

Game 4 nearly could not have been any closer. There was five lead changes and 10 ties in the first 32 points. It was Crawford and Wiers that again were the difference to give Willard a cushion. Two kills from Wiers and one from Crawford gave the Flashes a 19-16 lead — the first lead of more than two points for either team in the game.

Crawford added one of her four aces after a Huron timeout. The Tigers got within two points once, but an error from Huron and a kill by the Flashes knotted the match at two games apiece.

"Coming back from 0-2 to win three straight is hard to do, no matter who you are playing and it is just about unheard of against Huron," Rohrer said. "It is just hard to do.

"The girls and I were worried coming in that we had peaked too early and maybe we were dragging through the end of the season," he added. "Win or lose that last game, this would have been a good match to go into the tournament on."

Crawford had 14 kills and five blocks while connecting on 27-of-27 serving. Adams added 23 digs and two aces on 19-of-19 serving, while Madie Secor had 31 digs.

"If we play at our best like this, we should be able to hold up that district trophy," Rohrer said. "I do not see why there is any reason we couldn't. It is not as easy as that. It’s not that simple. The girls have to show up and play."

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