Norwalk and Bellevue took the first steps down the Division II volleyball tournament trail with wins during action Tuesday night.
The Northern Ohio League clubs polished off a pair of Sandusky Bay Conference teams to begin tournament play as Norwalk opened the evening with a 25-22, 25-16, 25-12 victory over Clyde, while Bellevue also needed only three games to advance to the sectional finals by beating Port Clinton, 25-20, 25-16, 25-14.
Norwalk earned a third meeting with Willard in one of two sectional finals slated for Saturday. The Ladies in Blue will tangle with the Lady Flashes in the first match of the day at 1 p.m.
Bellevue will go against Perkins 30 minutes after the first match. The winner of that match advances to the district semifinal back at Norwalk at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Norwalk and Clyde are known as two of the premier teams in the area, so it was no surprise the teams were in a real dogfight in the first game of the opening match of the night.
The opener was tied no fewer than 12 times early before Norwalk took control. Norwalk garnered a pair of points to create some separation, and the host team never looked back.
Norwalk roared out of the gate in the second game, scoring nine of the first 10 points on the way to the 15-point win. Whitney Roth served four points and Taylor Slauterback served five in the early outburst.
Clyde took a 3-1 lead at the outset of the third game behind a pair of service points by Alesha Dickman. A long serve by Clyde gave Norwalk its second point and, more importantly, the ball.
Kristin Cannon reeled off fie points and Norwalk led 8-3 and the contest was never close after that.
“I told the kids we were starting 0-0 and it was the start of the second season for us,” veteran Norwalk coach Grace Hutchinson said after the win. “Tonight was the first time we had been healthy all year with the first time all year the lineup we wanted on the floor. I thought they all played well. It was a good team effort. It was a great way to start,” she said.
Clyde coach Brian Miller said his girls had “been inconsistent all year.”
“It was more of the same tonight,” Miller said. “We were right there in the first game and could not get the job done,” he said. “Game two we had a shift in momentum and it came down to hitting errors and we just had too many,” the coach said.
“We picked up a lot of junk,” said Bellevue coach Karen Irons after her team advanced with its win over Port Clinton. Bellevue raced out to a 5-1 lead after three rotations only to have Port Clinton come back to tie the contest.
It was a dog fight from there. The teams were tied no less than 11 times over the rest of the first game. There was more back-and-forth action in the second game which was tied five times before Bellevue took a 19-10 lead and coasted the rest of the way.
The teams were knotted up only once in the third game — at three.
Bellevue broke service and went on to grab a 6-3 lead and went on to win going away.
Irons was pleased with her team’s performance.
“We picked it up tonight,” she said. “We are a young team and are just going to take it one match at time,” she said of the rest of the journey down the tournament trail.