WEST ALEXANDRIA – It took five sets for Ansonia to finally put Twin Valley South away on the road on Tuesday, but the Tigers managed to win in come-from-behind fashion.
This Cross County Conference win avenged a non-conference loss to South a few weeks back in a Saturday tournament.
After losing the first set on the road, it would have easy for the Lady Tigers to tuck their tails for the next two sets and scamper back home. But the Tigers clawed their way back into the match and had to come from behind in the last set for the final victory, 14-25, 25-15, 13-25, 25-21, 15-9.
The trend in the match in the first three sets was that the team that got the early lead went on to win that set. But in the fourth set it was dog fight with several ties. Towards the end, Ansonia surged for the win thanks to two kills in a row from Bailey Stammen, who had a stellar night with 12 kills.
Ansonia coach Craig Riethman later related that he had made a lineup change since the two teams’ first meeting. Stammen was formerly used primarily as a setter, but now she was getting time on the front line – and that change paid dividends.
The win forced a fifth set with each team having two wins apiece. Ansonia stumbled. The Tigers could only do wrong – quickly falling behind 5-0. They had lost any momentum from that previous victory. Worse yet, South was a third of the way to the win.
Coach Riethman took a timeout and got the team set right. The team responded – scoring 15 points while only allowing South 3.
Seniors Aliya Barga and Bailey Stammen showed leadership and poise. Barga had two ace serves after the timeout, and Stammen had two more back-to-back kills to crush South’s late rally and get that critical win, 15-9.
“I was very proud of how the girls played tonight,” Riethman said. “They could have folded after that first game, but they responded and won the second. Typically this season they have gotten down on themselves when things go wrong, but tonight we didn’t really do that, and it resulted in a win.”
“We talked about how we needed to stay aggressive,” Riethman said of Ansonia’s comeback from down 5-0 in the fifth set. “We must have had about 15 kills in that fourth set. But we played a little hesitant to begin. They did find a hole in our defense so we adjusted them to that. Once we did that, we limited our mistakes and came away with the win. The team passed well and set up the front line.”
He had praise for Stammen after the game and mentioned that Barga did a good job blocking – with her height a lot of times she is the only blocker.
“She has to cover a lot of ground,” Riethman said. “She played hard and did a good job”.
A quality win should help Ansonia get a bump up in the seedings for the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament that is coming soon. But next up is Arcanum.
“They are a strong team, and they are well coached,” Riethman said. “They are a scrappy team. We will not beat them by just sending the ball over the net. We will have to have the ability to do kills like we did tonight and limit our mistakes.”
Stammen led Ansonia with 12 kills and Barga had seven. Barga led the Tigers with four blocks while Stammen had two.
Trinity Henderson had 33 digs, and Barga had 32. Chelsea Noggler led Ansonia with 14 assists while Stammen added nine.