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NLL title contention continues for Blue Devils


Springfield’s Gabby Teifke, left, spikes the ball against Anthony Wayne’s Ellie Mruzek during a key NLL match on Tuesday. The Blue Devils won 3-1.

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Springfield passed a stiff test from Anthony Wayne on Tuesday as the Blue Devils got back on track toward repeating as Northern Lakes League volleyball champs.

Springfield suffered its first NLL setback last Thursday, losing to Perrysburg. But the Blue Devils rebounded at home with a 3-1 victory over the Generals.

Playing on their home court, the Blue Devils (7-2, 4-1 NLL) cruised to a win in the first set, 25-14. They then held off three set points from the Generals (5-3, 3-2) to take the second set 30-28. Anthony Wayne stayed alive by taking the third set 25-23. But the Blue Devils closed the match with a 25-13 win in the fourth set.

“Anthony Wayne is a big rivalry for us,” Springfield coach McKenna Reitz said. “They gave us our only loss last season so we have a lot to avenge. ... They wanted to get the job done and they did.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Springfield vs. Anthony Wayne

The Blue Devils feature six seniors but several players on the deep roster stepped up at different times.

Senior outside hitter Meredith Shank showed her all-around talent throughout the match.

“This was everything because our backs were against the wall,” Shank said. “If we would have lost this match the championship would have been out of our hands.”

Senior middle blockers Gabby Teifke and Michelle Asiedu impacted the game at different times. Junior setter Ashley Nuding distributed effectively throughout.

Springfield used a 6-0 run midway through the first set to take control. Shank's two straight kills gave her team a 23-13 lead.

“We tried to control the match,” Shank said. “We started off strong but we knew they would be stronger in the second set.”

The Generals, who also lost to Perrysburg last week, stepped up in the second set and seized an early 11-6 lead. Springfield rallied to tie it at 15 on three straight aces by Libby Mathewson.

AW had chances to tie the match at two sets. The Generals led 25-24, then 26-25, and finally 27-26. Each time Reitz called a timeout.

“I just tell them to calm down and refocus,” she said.

Each time her players responded to tie the set back up and prevailed 30-28.

The Generals rallied behind junior Stephanie Olman, freshman Maddie Pollard, and seniors Morgan Tansel and Ellie Mruzek to force a fourth set.

Springfield never trailed in the fourth. The Blue Devils used a 7-0 spurt, including two aces by Taylor Emery, to go up 12-7. Asiedu gave her team a 23-13, edge and freshman Allie Hale finished it with back-to-back kills.

“I'm very fortunate to have a very deep bench,” Reitz said. “I have a lot of hitters.”

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