Big Walnut’s volleyball team was down 2-0 and facing match point, but rallied in remarkable fashion to defeat Kettering Archbishop Alter in five sets Friday night in Division II state semifinals at the Wright State University Nutter Center.
The Golden Eagles (25-3) had all they could handle early on against the Knights, who finished 21-7 and were 10-0 in the Greater Catholic League. The Kettering-based team was getting the calls and the hard spikes in the first two hard-fought sets. Alter won the first set 25-22 and the second 25-19.
Big Walnut seemed to get stronger, though, as the match went on, even when they were down 21-22 in the third set. The Golden Eagles were able to tie it up and then won it 28-26.
There was more adversity in the fourth set, when 6’-1” junior Kelsie Imertreijs went hard into a table trying to dig a kill. After a minute on the floor and a word from coach Ron Lehman, she got back up and stayed in the game. And in a silly moment, security confiscated the student cheering section’s innocuous “SPORTS” sign — it was later returned.
But that didn’t stop BW, who succeeded on minute-long rallies and pulled even in sets with a 25-23 tally in the fourth. The two rival crowds responded to the others chants, and there was a pretty good turnout, even though the game was more than an hour away for the folks from Sunbury.
In the final set, the Eagles flew high, leading all the way, and getting Alter to call two quick timeouts. It wasn’t enough, though, and Big Walnut put the tough Alter away 15-9.
In the unofficial statistics, Imertreijs had 14 kills and 14 digs; Mac Podraza had 17 kills and 14 digs; Kaley Rammelsberg had 15 kills and 1 dig; Emily Vance had 17 digs; Samantha Bickley had 7 digs; Haley Griffith had 2 kills; Emma Urhammer had 2 kills and 1 dig; and Lauren Speelman had 2 digs.
Prior to this game, Big Walnut has also won the District Champion title and Central District OCC Champion title this season.
The 25-3 Eagles will face the Padua Franciscan Bruins at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 in the Nutter Center for the Division II State championship game. They defeated Lake Catholic in a 3-set sweep.
Leann Budzak and Keri Rammelsberg contributed to this report.