KETTERING – A great start quickly unraveled for Versailles on Thursday night as the Tigers lost 3-1 to Miami East in an Ohio High School Athletic Association regional semifinal volleyball match at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
Versailles, which started out the first set on a 9-1 run, won the opening game 25-22. However, the Tigers then lost the next three games 25-18, 28-26 and 25-19 to end their season.
“I think we just broke down mentally,” Versailles volleyball coach Kenzie Bruggeman said. “That’s all it was. We just weren’t able to step out and accept the challenge. We knew that it was going to be a challenge, but we weren’t really able to engage ourselves in the game and just go out and take it. We could’ve. We could’ve taken it. But that’s OK.”
Versailles began Thursday’s match on a 5-0 run, prompting a quick timeout from Miami East – a 2015 state final four team. The Tigers then extended their lead to 9-1 before the Vikings started to right the ship.
Miami East went on a 9-5 run to cut Versailles’ lead to 14-10, prompting a Tiger timeout. The Vikings continued to close the gap, tying the score at 18-18 and then taking their first lead when a serve rolled over the net and hit on Versailles’ side of the court.
Versailles was able to recover, though, and scored seven of the next 10 points to win the first set 25-22.
Even though Miami East lost the first game, the Vikings had gained momentum that carried over to the second set. The Vikings built a 13-9 lead in the game, which caused Versailles to use a timeout.
Versailles regrouped after the break and fought back to take a 16-14 lead. However, Miami East rediscovered its form and scored 11 of the next 13 points to win the game 25-18 and tie the match at 1-1.
“They started to run a quicker middle, and we were releasing out to their outsides every time,” Bruggeman said of Miami East’s adjustments, “so just a lot of discipline things and then that led to us not talking, not working as one and that was very evident on the court.”
With the match tied, Versailles and Miami East played their tightest game of the night in the third set. There were 19 ties in that game, and the only time either team led by more than two points was Versailles’ early 3-0 advantage.
Versailles had two set-point opportunities at 24-23 and 26-25 but couldn’t get the point it needed. Miami East, which had a set-point opportunity at 25-24, finally got the game-winning point for a 28-26 victory and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five match.
Winning the closely-contested third set seemed to give Miami East the momentum in the fourth set. From a 5-5 tie Miami East went on a 5-0 run to take a lead it held the rest of the game en route to a 25-19 win, claiming a 3-1 victory.
With Thursday’s loss Versailles ended its season with a 20-6 record. The Tigers won a share of the Midwest Athletic Conference championship and for a fourth consecutive year made it to the sweet 16 of the OHSAA tournament.
“I like it but not where we ended,” Bruggeman said of her first season as the Versailles head coach. “I think we could have went a lot farther but lesson learned.”
Thursday’s loss also marked the end of the high school volleyball careers of Versailles seniors Lindsey Didier, Bailey Huffman, Kami Ording and Taylor Tyo.
“Great group,” Bruggeman said of the seniors. “A lot of leadership, especially in the offseason. They had a drive and a purpose, and we just fell short.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.