The Flyers, now 23-1, downed the Cardinals 25-20, 31-33, 25-17 and 25-17, to advance to Saturday’s district final at Coldwater where they play another fellow MAC team Delphos St. John’s. New Bremen finishes the year 16-7.
Although the match was controlled by Marion it was game two that left the nearly packed house speechless. It was an epic struggle between conference foes that saw comebacks, game points and two teams simply trying to survive.
“The second game was huge,” New Bremen coach Lisa Thobe said. “The problem for us was we just stopped hitting and made a lot of mistakes. Height wise Marion Local was huge and that really hurt us.”
Marion came into the game the heavy favorite, but it became apparent real quick that New Bremen was not impressed.
One problem the Cardinals had, though, was countering Marion’s Megan Barhorst, who dominated the action upfront with 15 kills and 10 blocks, leaving her coach Amy Steinenger in awe.
“Megan Barhorst played the game of her life tonight,” Steinenger said.
In the first game, the teams traded blows as New Bremen’s Jackie Dabbelt was able to answer Marion at the net. As the game progressed it started to come down to who would make the first move.
The Flyers ended up being that team. Although it was only a small run, two points, it was just enough. Marion took an 11-9 lead and never looked back. Despite Bremen hanging tough Marion broke free. The second run came when it was 20-17 Marion, the Flyers Kristen Bergman served them to a 24-18 advantage. Marion eventually won the first game 25-20 in an exciting game one. As it turned out that was just the beginning.
New Bremen came out with its orders in Game 2 – find the hole in the Flyers blocking and hit through it – and the Cards did just that. The trio of Dabbelt, Michelle Griesdorn and Taylor Jones attacked the net with tenacity.
New Bermen made the game’s first move and got out ahead 7-5. That advantage grew to 16-10 on a Griesdorn serve and the Cards looked on their to an easy game two win. But not so fast.
The Flyers responded in a big way and in fact they not only caught New Bremen but soared right past them. Marion took a 21-18 lead behind freshman Alyssa Winner.
Stunningly all this did was set the stage for the epic struggle. Bremen answered the Flyers and tied the game at 23-23. After that the two teams traded points, mistakes and kills pushing the score past 25 and on towards 30.
Finally, the marathon ended when New Bremen strung together consecutive points and won the second game 33-31.
“I told the girls this match was turning out very similar to the Versailles match,” Steinenger said. “We won the first won, they came back and won the second game and it was crucial we win the third game.”
The question was which team could regroup and control momentum? The answer was Marion Local.
After a relatively quiet night the Flyer’s Abby Niekamp awoke. The senior middle hitter simply took over the game and dominated at all points.
In games three and four she notched eight kills and numerous blocks, pushing the Cardinals away from the net and her team towards victory.
Marion took control of the third game when Niekamp recorded three service points, pushing an 18-15 advantage to 21-16 Marion. After that Marion continued to dominate winning the crucial third game 25-17.
Bremen came back for the fourth game facing elimination, but it quickly became clear that the tank was empty. Barhorst got the Flyers to a 6-0 advantage and they never looked back, winning the game 25-17 and the match 3-1.