No sport has momentum swings quiet like the ones you’ll see in volleyball.
Evidence: Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy’s five-set thriller Tuesday night in Powell. Liberty used a 6-1 run in the fourth set to even things up before starting the fifth set 7-0 to close out a 25-20, 22-25, 11-25, 25-21, 15-9 win over Olentangy to stay unbeaten.
The two teams were raising money for Taylor Karlo’s Walk for PKD fundraiser. She was diagnosed over the summer and will participate in the event Oct. 20.
So, it was fitting that Karlo provided the game’s first swing, serving up three aces in a 5-1 rally that gave the Patriots control in the first set.
“She’s been serving really well in practices and in games – it’s been pretty good,” Liberty coach Jen Chapman said. “I told her to be ready to serve because when she hits it well – we can score a lot of points off of her serve.”
Karlo finished with eight kills and three aces for the Patriots (14-0, 5-0). Grace Clark had 16 kills, Claranne Fechter added 10 and Abby Erickson chipped in with nine.
Logan Flaugh had 55 assists and four aces, Fechter had 26 digs and Steckelberg added 21 digs to lead Liberty.
Olentangy used a 6-0 run to close out the second set, led by Emily Margolies with a couple of kills and a combo block.
“They were hitting well and I feel like we couldn’t get a stop at the net,” Chapman said. “Credit to (Olentangy) – they were playing some pretty scrappy defense and it was frustrating our hitters a little bit. It switched the whole momentum of the game.”
The momentum carried over into the third, when Olentangy started 6-1 and separated with a 6-0 run in the middle of the set. Olivia Margolies had three kills to lead the way in the second rally.
Brennah Gallagher had a pair of aces, including one that closed out the set and Emily Margolies had a kill and a block as Olentangy clinched the third with another 6-0 rally.
“I told the girls at the end of the second set that they needed to find the energy that they needed to play with and that they needed to keep that up,” Olentangy coach Sarah Polhemus said. “You could kind of see that energy start in the second set and it carried right through the third set.”
Clark had five kills and Karlo added four and assisted on a couple of blocks to lead the way in the fourth set to help turn the momentum back to Liberty.
“I thought Grace was just a firecracker,” Chapman said. “She just lit a fire under everybody.”
That momentum carried into the fifth thanks to Erickson and Flaugh. Erickson had a couple of kills and helped out on a pair of blocks and Flaugh had a pair of aces during a 7-0 start.
Steckelberg said changing momentum back was as simple as cheering for each other.
“When we would get a couple of points, we would all go crazy and that would help shift the energy to us,” she said. “During that (7-0 run) – every point we were all cheering and I think that really helped.”
Olentangy reeled off six of the next seven points, which started on a Maggie Samijlenko tip shot. But, Raegan Rosi had a couple of kills to help Liberty clinch the win.
Emily Margolies provided a well-rounded effort for Olentangy with 18 kills, 21 digs and nine assists.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” Polhemus said. “I’m really starting to see her come into her own – especially asking her to start setting in her senior year. She’s giving everything she has on every single play in any role that I put in front of her.”
Olivia Margolies had 27 kills, Madyson Chitty had 27 digs, Samijlenko had 40 assists and Abby O’Donnell had three solo blocks to lead Olentangy (14-3, 3-2).
Next up, both teams continue league play Thursday night. Liberty travels to rival Orange and Olentangy visits Westerville South.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]