BLOOMDALE — An opportunity for a significant victory in the Northern Buckeye Conference volleyball race occurred Tuesday night when Otsego and Elmwood faced off.
The winner of the early-season tilt would be in a good spot in the NBC and it was Otsego who prevailed 25-10, 25-22, 25-17.
Coach Cheryl Jones was pleased with what she saw from the Knights (4-2, 3-0 NBC) who are looking to repeat as conference champions.
PHOTO GALLERY: Otsego vs. Elmwood
"The rivalry between our schools is always huge and we knew that Elmwood has the potential to be first in the league," she said. "On any given — this is a crazy sport — things can roll one way or another. It was a huge thing to see, can we walk the walk and not just talk the talk, but make the walk.
"Even when it got close they maintained their composure."
Abby Hesselschwardt, Lauren Wynn, and Morgan Smoyer combined for 40 kills. Hesselschwardt led the way with a game-high 19, while Wynn added 11 and Smoyer finished with 10. Wynn also tallied 11 digs and Kylie Asmus finished with 12.
Mac Varner contributed a game-high 41 assists in a strong showing against the Royals (4-3, 2-1).
"Until you walk on to that bus it's not over," Jones said. "They kept fighting and fighting and they wanted it."
Elmwood coach Penny Rayle said her team is still a work in progress after losing six key players from last year to graduation.
"We have a lot of work to do and we're going to get there," Rayle said. "Overall, we're going to get there."
The Knights took control right from the outset. They dominated the first game and never looked back.
Hesselschwardt, Varner, and Wynn led the initial charge.
Hesselschwardt served for eight straight points, including back-to-back aces that resulted in Otsego increasing a 6-5 lead to 14-5. Varner served for five straight points while Wynn accounted for six kills.
The Royals were more competitive in the second game and kept the score close right until the end.
However, Elmwood couldn't pull any closer than two points as the Knights found a way to do just enough down the stretch.
That set up Otsego to deliver the knockout blow in the final game.