By Cort Reynolds

Ada Herald writer

ADA - The Ada volleyball team finished its weekly three-match run of Hardin County foes with a four-set win over visiting traditional arch-rival Upper Scioto Valley Monday night, but it came with difficulty.

The Lady Bulldogs put on a late run in the final game to overcome the feisty Lady Rams and come away with a hard-fought 25-18, 19-25, 25-18, 25-23 non-league victory.

The win gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 mark at home over county foes Hardin Northern, Kenton and USV, all on the last three successive Mondays in Ada.

"We stepped it up late, that's a good team we faced," said first-year Bulldog coach Andrew Woodward. "We have a lot of offensive options. Things are starting to click for us."

USV coach Paula Rose was upset with the officiating after the match. "But they didn't cost us the match," she noted. "This is a game of momentum. We missed a few more serves than usual. It's always a rivalry match with Ada. I think we are pretty evenly matched."

Fired-up USV seemed to lead early in every game before Ada would usually come back behind better-balanced hitting and wear down the scrappy visitors.

The Lady Bulldogs improved to 11-8 with the win while USV dropped to 9-7.

Ada trailed for much of set one and took their first lead at 12-11. The Rams tied it at 13 before the hosts reeled off four points in a row behind two Taylor Willeke service winners.

A cross court kill by Tori Wyss, followed by an Alexis Rhodes kill and then a tip by the junior middle advanced Ada to set point. Willeke then clinched the game with a big kill, 25-18.

USV raced to an 11-3 lead to start game two behind the jump serving of athletic senior Aspen Rose. Ada rallied briefly to within 13-6, but the Rams ran off four straight points to seize command.

However, then the Bulldogs began to come back. A Wyss smash and two kills by Willeke helped them pull within 20-14, yet serving errors curbed their momentum. Ram junior Sydney Williams came up with a timely tip before hits by Wyss, Willeke and Rhodes and a USV error inched the hosts within 23-19.

After a Ram timeout Ali Goldsmith hit a winning attack up the sideline to reach game point, and then Ada hit into the net to give USV a 25-19 victory.

The visitors again jumped ahead early in game three 5-1. Ada ran off five straight points to grab the lead yet USV forged in front 8-6. Two clean kills and a tip by Rhodes put the Bulldogs back in the lead and sparked a 7-1 spurt.

Morgan Rouch made a block kill, followed by a Willeke kill and two winning serves by Wyss for a 13-8 bulge. Ada stretched the lead to 20-13 after a Lindsay Walden tip. USV scrapped within 21-17 after a Goldsmith hit to the open back, yet Rouch countered with a nice tip.

Rhodes closed the game with two attacks sandwiched around a setting error, 25-18.

In set four USV again led early 5-1 after a Rose kill and a Mary Winegardner ace. But a controversial four-hit call in Ada's favor got the crowd involved. However, the Rams responded to the call with fire and put together a 5-0 flurry as Rose fired two aces.

The Bulldogs got back in striking distance at 14-8, yet Rose mustered a big kill to help build their lead back to a seemingly comfortable 17-8.

Willeke's smash up the line helped start Ada on the comeback trail. A cross court kill by Wyss and a Willeke service winner cut it to 17-13. Wyss hit the ball to the open short spot, but a Bulldog serving error and an ace by the spunky Rose put the black and red back in front 19-14.

Senior Sam Wildman came up with a clutch kill for Ada and the hosts won a long rally to pull within 19-16. "Sam Wildman had two nice kills in the fourth set and two aces," Woodward noted. A successful Williams hit stopped the momentum temporarily for the Rams, but Rhodes came up with a block and Ada then won a long rally.

Wyss hammered a kill to prompt a USV timeout with the deficit reduced to 20-19. Yet Goldsmith answered with two crucial kills up the line to the back for a 22-19 lead.

"Ali's a smart player, she places the ball well," said Rose.

However Ada won another long rally, and a Willeke kill off the top of the net fell in to get the purple and gold within 22-21. Willeke and Rhodes combined for a block that tied it, and the Bulldogs took their first lead of the set 23-22 when a Ram tip try sailed just wide.

Rhodes continued the critical 10-3 run with a big hit that ricocheted off a USV blocker for a 24-22 edge as Wyss served four consecutive crucial points.

Crafty senior Goldsmith responded with a clever tip in the clutch to keep the Rams alive. But then USV served wide on match point to lose a heartbreaker, 25-23.

"We came back well in the fourth set," said Woodward. "Wyss served well and our outside hitters started hitting well," he explained.

Willeke led Ada with 16 kills and three aces. Rhodes contributed nine kills and three big blocks. Wyss added eight kills and a pair of aces.

Freshman Megan Simon dug up 20 balls while Rouch dished out 35 assists. Walden added two blocks.

Ada (2-4 Northwest Conference) visits second-place Columbus Grove (11-4, 5-1 NWC) Tuesday and hosts last-place Paulding (2-11, 0-6 NWC) Thursday in a pair of league matches. "Tuesday should be a good match vs. Grove," Woodward offered.

The Paulding match will be the home finale for Bulldog seniors Rouch, Wildman and Willeke. Ada is 7-2 at home this season.

USV resumes play Thursday at Riverside in an NWCC match.