Ottawa-Glandorf's Niki Ellerbrock (13) hammers an attack in the Titans Western Buckeye League match with Van Wert Thursday night. (Putnam Sentinel/ John Parent)
Ottawa-Glandorf's Niki Ellerbrock (13) hammers an attack in the Titans Western Buckeye League match with Van Wert Thursday night. (Putnam Sentinel/ John Parent)

VAN WERT — Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Ann Ellerbrock reached a coaching milestone in the Titans’ 3-set win at Van Wert on Thursday night. O-G swept through the Lady Cougars, winning 25-21, 25-20 and 25-18 to give Ellerbrock her 300th career victory.

It’s hard to imagine any of those wins being more impressive than this one.

The Lady Titans used a strong service game and relentless attacks at the net to keep the pressure on a very good Van Wert team all evening.

“They were good hitters,” Van Wert coach Vicki Smith said of the Titan front line. “When we could get the block up and deflect it some, then we were able to play it defensively, but a lot of times they got it before we could get there.”

The Cougars started the match strong, getting points on a McKenzie Collins tap, an Alexis Dowdy block, and a slam from Alexa Dunlap to jump to an early 3-0 advantage.

From there, however, Titan junior Olivia Hermiller unleashed a powerful right hand smash , then followed with a second kill to the deep corner of the court.

The Titans built a quick 6-3 lead on a trio of aces by senior Ashley Stechshulte.

“We tried to adjust with the serve, and just kind of break it up,” Van Wert coach Vicki Smith explained. “They would serve to the same person, which we would try to do as well, so I give them credit for that.”

Hermiller hammered another home and the Titans got a pair of kills from Niki Ellerbrock before the Cougars fought back.

An ace by Dunlap preceded two straight Landrie Koontz blasts to help bring Van Wert to within 11-9 and two Saige Royer aces gave the Cougars a 15-12 lead.

Van Wert again led by three at 18-15, but three straight errors brought the Titans back to even. A spike by Anna Bellman put O-G ahead for good at 22-21 and kills by Niki Ellerbrock and Jordan Alt ended the set.

In the second, Van Wert again took a quick lead thanks to a Riley Jones ace, but Ottawa-Glandorf’s net attack was unrelenting. Niki Ellerbrock, Hermiller, Kylie White and Alt were all involved, as senior Madison Stechshulte was setting the ball all over the court, keeping the Cougar blockers guessing.

“We have setters all along the front row; everybody can hit, they have nice hands,” explained the Titan head coach. “The setters actually come in a little early and they stay a little late, to get some extra reps, so they can be more confident in their sets.”

The Titans built a 16-9 advantage before Dowdy blasted one from the left side, and Amanda Coplin followed with a kill through the Titan defense. The Titans answered and re-built their margin to seven on a Hermiller kill before A Peyton Fleming spike ignited a late Cougar rally.

From down 22-15, the Cougars used another Jones ace and a smash through the block by Emma Kohn to get within 23-20, but the Titans closed the set with a Hermiller bomb and an ace by Ashley Stechshulte for the 2-set advantage.

“I thought ‘well, we’re down two games, we can come back and win it,’ because the girls have that potential,” Smith continued. The Cougars fought back from a 2-set margin on Monday at St. John’s and rallied to a 5-set victory.

A comeback wasn’t in the cards for the Cougars on Thursday, however, as Bellman served four straight points to give the Titans an early lead in what would be the final set. The Cougars fought back, trading points with O-G for much of the third, but O-G eventually pulled away, building a 23-12 lead.

Van Wert made a spirited rally late, picking up five straight points, but the hole was too deep.

“This is a fine group of girls; we have everybody back from last year’s team, so over the summer we were just refining,” Coach Ellerbrock stated. “We have some things to work on still, but they’re seniors and they want it. They work hard.”

“It’s been a long week, there have been a lot of games, it’s fair time, first week of school, so they were pushing to try to get back into it,” Smith noted. “We’ve just got to get to where we are clicking. When we were playing well, we were covering, we were making things happen. That’s how we have to do it all the time.”