The Swanton volleyball team ended a 43-year title drought on Oct. 3 when the Bulldogs beat Patrick Henry, 25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-18, to clinch a share of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title, their first in that sport.
The Bulldogs (20-1, 7-0 NWOAL) then made it an outright crown on Tuesday, when they won at Delta, 25-20, 25-16, 25-12.
Swanton played volleyball in the former Northern Border League (1974-77) without winning a championship, and since rejoining the NWOAL in 1978, was the only league member without a volleyball title.
Fifth-year coach Kyle Borer’s Bulldogs, who were ranked No. 12 in the latest Ohio Division III state coaches’ poll, set the stage for this season by posting a 19-5, 5-2 record last year.
They returned a veteran core of experienced talent led by the senior attack trio of 5-9 middle blocker/outside hitter Julia Smith, 5-11 middle hitter/OH Cydney Christensen, and 5-8 OH/defensive specialist Sidney Taylor.
Entering the week, Smith, who placed third in the Division III state high jump in track and field last June, led the Bulldogs in kills with 265 kills, 94 total blocks, and 39 service aces, and had added 151 digs.
Christensen had contributed 252 kills, 26 blocks and 140 digs, and Taylor had 202 kills, a team-high 273 digs, and 29 aces.
“It starts with those three at the net,” Borer said. “They’re experienced. They’ve been playing for four years. Our setter Abby Arnold has come a long way in running our offense.
“Everybody we play knows, if we can get our hitters the ball, we’re a dangerous team and tough to stop. If we can play well defensively and serve-receiver well, we are a very tough team.”
Arnold, a 5-10 junior setter and right-side hitter, has 667 assists, 186 digs, and 26 blocks, and 5-8 sophomore DS/S/RS Alexis Sarvo has 151 digs and 28 aces.
Rounding out the nine-player regular varsity roster are senior Olivia Williams, junior Riley Gardner, and sophomores Jessica Dohm and Ashlynn Waddell.
“Last year they found out how good they could be,” Borer said. “Coming up just a little short opened their eyes to how good they really could be by just fixing a few little things.
“From last year to this year, we’ve set goals for what we wanted to accomplish. Winning the league championship was one of them.”
Swanton opens tournament play with a home sectional semifinal against Northwood on Tuesday.