FINDLAY - The Archbold volleyball team hasn't faced much adversity this season.
The Blue Streaks entered yesterday's Division III
regional final at Liberty-Benton High School without a loss and without having played a fifth game this season.
Well, Archbold overcame plenty of hardship yesterday, eventually forcing a fifth game against Huron. But the Blue Streaks weren't able to win that final game, dropping a 26-24, 26-28, 25-19, 21-25, 15-9 loss to the Tigers.
"It was definitely a disadvantage that our kids had not gone five games before," Archbold coach Julie Nofziger admitted. "We didn't know what that was like. And it was hard to keep our chins up when we were down four or five points and we were only going to 15.
"But we went down swinging, and we wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
In the first game Huron jumped to a 13-7 advantage, only to see Archbold tie the game at 14. The two teams traded small leads until it was 24-24, and the Tigers took advantage of a pair of Blue Streak mistakes to claim the win.
In game two, Archbold led 24-21, only to see the Tigers score four straight points to push the Blue Streaks against the wall.
But Archbold scored four of the final five points to tie the match.
Game three belonged to Huron, which never trailed in claiming the 25-19 win.
"We've played down before this year, and we've always come back strong," Nofziger said. "It didn't cross my mind that we couldn't come back because I believe in these players - and they believe in themselves."
Archbold bounced back in that fourth game from a 16-14 deficit, using a late 8-2 run, to hold off Huron and force a fifth game.
"I was concerned, because after losing the fourth game the momentum should be with them," Tigers coach Don Wood said. "But we've been in a couple of game fives, so we were prepared for it.
"A lot of kids would be done after losing that fourth game, but we have some mentally tough kids. So we went back to work."
The Hurons scored the first four points of that final game, two coming on kills by Jesse Miedema. The Blue Streaks came no closer than 10-8 as the Tigers scored five of the match's final six points.
"We knew Huron wasn't going to roll over and die, but our kids didn't either," Nofziger said. "We came back in the second game and the fourth game, so give our kids credit.
"We struggled a little in blocking and in serve receive, and at this level you can't struggle. You can't give up points by missing serves or missing opportunities."
Huron, which advances to the state semifinals with a 24-3 record, was led by 19 kills and five blocks by Miedema.
Archbold was led by junior Alyssa Schaub's 18 kills, while senior Emily Snyder added 10 kills. Senior setter Stacy Wyse finished with 45 assists and three service aces as Archbold's senior-dominated lineup saw its season end with a 27-1 mark.
"These kids have worked so hard," Nofziger said of her nine seniors. "Physically they are just so athletic, and you don't get kids like this every year.
"And they were so unselfish. They didn't care who got the stats - they only wanted the wins."
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