Norwalk can't sustain momentum in 5-game loss

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Aug 27, 2019 at 10:53 PM

NORWALK — Rally scoring in volleyball has it all.

Every type of emotion possible, both good and bad, typically comes out all. When it comes to a decisive fifth set, those emotions all get pushed out in a span of about 15 minutes — and then it’s suddenly over.

And unfortunately for the Norwalk volleyball team, the momentum of rally scoring can be as short-lived as the next point.

Down 2-1 and facing elimination in Game 4 of Tuesday’s SBC Lake Division match against visiting Tiffin Columbian, Norwalk dominated the Tornadoes every which way possible. The end result was a 25-7 win that didn’t feel that close to those in attendance at Norwalk High School.

But when it came to the decisive Game 5, Norwalk on three different occasions held a two-point advantage — never able to push it any further. Instead, the Tornadoes (6-0, 1-0) scored five points in a six-point stretch, then held off Norwalk for a 15-13 win to take the match.

After losing Game 1, 25-11, the Tornadoes won the second and third games by scores of 25-18 and 25-13.

The loss dropped Norwalk to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Lake.

“I think sometimes we decide we can sit back on our heels,” Norwalk coach Sarah Kipp said. “And you can’t do that, no matter who is on the other side of the net. Tiffin did a nice job of coming out in the last game and playing steady every point. And we didn’t.

“We thought we had won a point, and we kind of quit.”

Claire Kelley got things started for Norwalk with a clean kill to the back of the Tiffin defense. The first two-point lead (3-1) came as Delaney Thomas got the ball past two Columbian defenders.

An out of bounds hit, and Columbian whistled in the net put Norwalk ahead by two points for a second time at 5-3. The Tornadoes then forged ahead on a couple of unforced errors by Norwalk.

However, Thomas knotted things at 7 with a kill, then a hit in the net two points later put Norwalk up by two points once again at 9-7.

Carly Bilton found her way above two Tiffin blockers with a kill for a 10-8 lead, then after the Tornadoes tied it, she put down another big hit for an 11-10 Norwalk lead.

But that is where things turned.

Columbian came up with consecutive blocks at the net, the last after a long volley, for a 12-11 lead. That sent Norwalk into a timeout, only to see the Tornadoes’ Rylie Roggow put down a thunderous kill for a 13-11 lead.

Norwalk battled back on a hit from Kelly, only for Roggow to again land a kill for a 14-12 lead. Ella Foster kept things alive for Norwalk with one of her eight kills, but yet another block by the Tornadoes sealed the game and the match.

“Their blocking was a huge factor for them in Game 5,” Kipp said. “They blocked several key points and we didn’t make adjustments to what their defense was. They run a rover defense, and we kept shoving it right to where they were. It made their game pretty easy.”

Kelley finished with 15 kills on 56-of-62 hitting for Norwalk, with Thomas adding 13 kills (31-of-34) and Bilton added nine kills (27-of-30.

Haleigh Skinner was 17 for 17 serving with 14 points and two aces, while Kelley added 15 points and two aces. Lindsey Koenig was 20 for 20 serving with 10 points and paced the defense with 38 digs.

Olivia Ward was 134-of-135 setting with 43 assists for Norwalk, and she also added 25 digs. Kelley had 19 digs, and Elyse Balduff had 11.

While acknowledging a home league loss hurts, Kipp knows the depth of the SBC Lake Division was on display in Tuesday’s loss.

“Absolutely, this is what it will be like virtually every league match,” she said. “It’s hard right now, with one player out with an injury who usually plays, and another girl may have broken her finger tonight. All of the sudden we were a little short on the bench.

“But we’ll come in (today) and be ready to work,” she added. “It’s back to work. There is time for us to let up or get a break. I would like to see us play our game no matter who is on the other side of the net.”

Norwalk is at Clyde on Thursday in league action.

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