JACKSON — Coming out ready to play is always important, especially when the postseason is on the line.
And if fans came out and saw the Notre Dame Lady Titans’ volleyball program play on Thursday evening against Corning Miller in a Division IV, Jackson II District Semifinal, that’s exactly what they got to witness.
Behind a career performance from Katie Dettwiller (16 kills, two blocks) and a splendid second frame where Notre Dame obtained a 10-0 run en route to a dominating set, the Lady Titans continued to roll right along as Notre Dame claimed a straight-set victory over Miller (25-20, 25-10, 25-17) to advance to Saturday’s Division IV, Jackson II District Finals.
For Kelsey Glockner, watching Dettwiller simply Dett-tonate her opponents on the other side was nothing less than enjoyable.
“That was, 100 percent, the best game of Katie’s career,” Glockner said. “I hope that Katie keeps showing up like that. It was so much fun to watch her perform like that, and to watch her celebrate with her team in the manner that she was. It was such a beautiful thing to watch. It was so great. I loved it.”
From the get-go, Dettwiller, along with Lexi Smith proved to be massive forces on the frontline, with Smith notching four kills and an ace within the first nine volleys of the affair and Dettwiller adding four kills of her own to allow Notre Dame to establish advantages of 14-8 and 17-12 in the first set of play.
When Miller closed the gap to a 20-18 tally late in the going off of stellar backline play that allowed star frontline hitter Olivia Houk to get going, Notre Dame’s Clara Hash joined in on the frontline fun by collecting two spikes of her own, which allowed the Lady Titans to close on a 6-2 spurt en route to taking the match.
“We didn’t know tons about Miller,” Glockner said of the Lady Falcons. “They came out and were really ready to play. They made some huge digs off of some hard swings that we were putting over the net. I believe that was our biggest weakness. We just assumed it was a kill, and didn’t stay in the game until the whistle blew. That was a huge adjustment that we made after the first set ended. This allowed us to stay in the game. Being ready for big digs off of big swings allowed us to force them into a one-ball offense rather than a three-ball offense.”
The first set, however, was only a sign of what was to come from the trio.
Behind great passing from Cassie Schaefer, Dettwiller, Hash, and Smith combined for 12 kills altogether in the second set, with Dettwiller adding a block and Smith collecting two aces in the process as Notre Dame cruised to a 25-10 victory in the second frame. In fact, Dettwiller, on her own, had at least four kills during the match that the 6-3 junior middle simply put down straight to the floor with a fierce tenacity that could simply be described as scary.
“She had a couple of big blocks, a couple of great plays on some passes, and some multiple, huge, 12-foot line kills,” Glockner said. “It was just super exciting, and a great momentum change for the team in order to come out with the victory.”
In the third set of action, Miller, again, responded with solid play. The Lady Falcons, who obtained two kills from Houk to begin the match, obtained a 4-2 advantage early in the going behind the play of the senior middle hitter. However, 13 additional kills from the star frontline trio of Dettwiller, Hash, and Smith, along with a match-ending 6-0 run that came off of another assisted block from the 6-3 junior, allowed Notre Dame to close the deal in straight-set fashion.
With the victory, Notre Dame not only improved to 19-5 overall on the year, but advanced to the Division IV, Jackson II District Finals, where the Lady Titans will face off against Federal Hocking — a straight-set winner over New Boston in the second Jackson II District Semifinal. While Notre Dame defeated the Lady Lancers in straight sets (25-15, 25-10, 25-16) during last year’s district semifinals, Glockner knows that Federal Hocking is not a program to sleep on by any means.
“Federal Hocking’s a great program,” Glockner said. “We played them last year in the district semifinals, too. They’re very athletic, and they have a very solid offense and defense. It’s definitely going to take us coming out, playing our roles, and being completely checked in every game and every point to be able to take them. We’re capable of doing it; we’ve just got to show up, because Federal Hocking is definitely going to come ready to play.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT