BROOKVILLE – Words can barely explain how good Anna’s Kelli Barhorst is. But, if West Liberty-Salem had any doubts, they have all been erased.
The 6-foot-3 Ohio State-bound middle hitter, decided midway through the second game of their Sectional final match that enough was enough. After easily winning the first game, Anna found itself in a struggle. The WL-S Tigers had closed to within two at 14-12 in the second game. From their Barhorst took over.
The senior ripped off 12 kills and 7 blocks after that point, leading Anna to an easy 25-12, 25-14 and 25-10 match win and sending them to the Tipp City district. The Rockets will play Hamilton Badin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in a district final.
“Kelli has done this all year long,” Anna Coach Karen Zumberger said. “She is very confident in herself and her teammates that they will get her the ball. When she starts snapping the ball in it is very intimidating.”
From the opening moments of the game it was clear that something had West Liberty off its game. If that was the presence of Barhorst, the idea of playing the defending D-III state champs or just one of those days, is unclear, but the Tigers committed a number of unforced errors.
The errors led to a 7-3 Anna advantage. From there Anna sensed an opportunity to end the first game rather quickly and they did. The Rockets kept rolling and built a 14-7 advantage off the serve of Ariane Billing.
Other than Barhorst’s all around play, it was the service game of Anna that created the biggest headache for West Liberty Salem.
“We have some real nice servers on this team,” Zumburger said. “I know we are going to make mistakes, but if you can take them out their serve receive you can get something easy back and we really work on that.”
When the two teams returned for the second game things continued going badly for WLS. They fell behind 9-5, but then were able to settle the nerves and started to push the Rockets.
Tessa Baily served the Tigers to within two points at 14-12 and it looked like West Liberty had something going. But, Barhorst then made her presence felt.
She halted the Tiger run with a kill and then drove her team to 25. Barhorst ripped off five kills and dominated the net. Eventually, the Rocket advantage went to 17-13. Kelsie Zumberger nearly served out the game, taking her team to a 24-14 advantage, but she lost her serve.
However, Barhorst ended the game with a kill off service-receive 25-14 and Anna now had a 2-0 match advantage.
With the match not even a half hour old, the Rockets went out looking to finish things in very quick fashion.
Still stunned by the Barhorst barrage, West Liberty continued to look out of sync. Lydia Kindelin ripped off seven service points, giving Anna an 8-2 advantage in the third game. After that it was just a matter of time before the Rockets reached 25.
Once again Anna turned to Barhorst who capped her day with seven kills in the final game. Kindelin, who started the attack, nearly finished it. The junior took the serve with her team up 20-9 and brought them to 24, but could not provide the final point.
That came on service return as Anna capped off the match sweep with a 25-10 game three victory.
The defending D-III champions now head to district looking to defend their title.
Said Zumberger: “We now a get week to work on things. This is a nice step for the girls.”