This time it was Versailles, the No. 1 ranked D-III team in the state, which downed the Skins 25-18, 17-25, 25-20 and 28-26 in a Midwest Athletic Conference tilt. The match was a test of will versus pure size and strength and in the end the Tigers height overcame the fighting spirit of St. Henry as Versailles improved to 13-0. St. Henry falls to 4-11.
“We have to have the toughest schedule in (the state in) Division III,” St. Henry head coach Lori Schwieterman said.
St. Henry’s 11 losses have come against: Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame (No. 2 in D-I), Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy (No. 4 in D-I), Olmsted Falls (No. 10 in D-I), Celina (No. 13 in D-II), Marion Local (No. 1 in D-IV), Lehman Catholic (No. 7 in D-IV), New Bremen (No. 3 in D-IV), Centerville (D-I), Chaminade-Julienne (D-II), Orrville (D-III) and now Versailles (No. 1 in D-III).
Doing what they have done all season the Tigers pushed St. Henry away from the net and forced them to grind out the match.
Leading the Versailles attack was senior hitter Justine Raterman who had 16 kills, four blocks and 12 points. Fellow senior Emily Bohman added 12 kills, 12 points and 15 digs.
It is becoming very clear that Raterman and Bohman are one of the best duos in D-III. What made Bohman’s performance even more impressive was that she simply took over in the decisive game four, when her team needed her the most.
“Emily was like a girl obsessed out there tonight,” Versailles coach Jeremy Riley said.
Versailles wasted little time in making a statement in the first game. The Tigers jumped out to a 9-5 advantage and rolled from there winning game one 25-18.
In game two, St. Henry took the early advantage with an 11-5 lead behind the play of Shelby Buschur and Brooke Mattingly. The Skins hitting combo was able to reclaim enough of the net and propel their squad to 25-17 game two victory.
“It just seemed like we couldn’t catch a break in the second game with blocks going out of bounds and other odd breaks,” Riley said.
Tied 1-1, Versailles took the net in game three and an early lead at 12-9. After that the two teams mostly traded points with a few minor runs. The end result was a 25-20 Versailles win. Raterman turned the game in favor of Versailles with a string three service points that gave her team a 24-19 lead.
The loss put St. Henry on the brink of elimination and the Tigers on brink of victory. Just like game one and three, Versailles got out early in game four. Again it was the serve of Rateman who helped the Tigers to an 8-4 lead. From there Versailles stayed out in front, but not enough to create any real separation.
St. Henry tied the match 21-21 late in the game and then Bohman and Raterman again took over. With Raterman setting and Bohman putting down the kills, the Tigers overtook the Skins winning the game 28-26 and the match 3-1.
Entering the contest Versailles was aware of the Skins tradition and schedule and took nothing for granted.
“We knew coming in they had played a very difficult schedule,” Riley said. “They are a good team.”
Said Schwieterman: “I thought the girls fought hard tonight and I am really proud of them. We made some good decisions and our hitters can make plays.”
Unfortunately for the Skins, Versailles’ hitters made more Tuesday.