Delphos St. John’s Abby Bonifas (14) and Melanie Koenig (15) try to blocks Edgerton’s Lydia Adams (23). (DHI Media/ Pat Agler)
Delphos St. John’s Abby Bonifas (14) and Melanie Koenig (15) try to blocks Edgerton’s Lydia Adams (23). (DHI Media/ Pat Agler)

KALIDA — Eight teams converged in Kalida for Saturday’s Pioneer Days Invitational Volleyball Tournament. In the end it was undefeated Liberty-Benton (now 9-0) that claimed the championship trophy, but Parkway finished a close second, winning twice before losing to the Eagles 25-16, 22-25, 25-17 in the title match. The Panthers are now 7-3.

The matches were played at two sites — Kalida High School and the St. Michael’s Catholic Church gymnasium. Every team got to play three matches.

In first round matches, Kalida cruised by Lima Perry 25-14, 25-19; Parkway squeaked by Edgerton 27-29, 26-24, 25-19; Liberty-Benton crushed Fairview 25-15, 25-14; and Lima Bath beat Delphos St. John’s 25-15, 25-22.

Semifinal matches saw Liberty-Benton again dominant in a 25-13, 25-16 win over Kalida and Parkway topping Bath 25-23, 25-14.

Bath (5-4) squeezed by Kalida 25-18, 26-24 in the third place match, leaving the hosts at 1-2 on the day and 1-6 on the season.

Delphos St. John’s dropped into the loss bracket where it won a tight one over Edgerton 25-20, 22-25, 25-19, but then lost the 5th place match to Fairview, which got there with a win over Perry. The Jays are now 3-7, the Apaches 5-1.

Edgerton, now 7-3, took 7th place with a win over Perry, which falls to 2-7

Kalida over Lima Perry 25-14, 25-19

In the tournament opener Kalida got its first win of the season by rolling over Lima Perry 25-14, 25-19. The Ladycats never trailed in either set.

The first set was never in doubt as Kalida overpowered the Commodores behind the net play of junior Morgan Mock and sophomore Grace Klausing. Perry was unable to mount any kind of offense.

The second set was a bit different. It appeared again to be no contest up until the Ladycats led 13-4. Suddenly, Perry began to mount a bit of offense and also got some good serving to close the gap to 16-14. However, a serving error, the first of four down the stretch, lost the Commodores’ momentum, and Kalida was able to pull away again, this time mainly behind the net play of Mock and freshman Lydia Vorst.

Parkway over Edgerton 27-29, 26-24, 25-19

Undoubtedly, the most exciting match of the day was the Parkway/Edgerton contest, won by the Lady Panthers 27-29, 26-24, 25-19. It was exciting volleyball from start to finish.

The first set was close throughout and had a wild ending. The Lady Bulldogs were a point away at 24-21, but a lift violation, a serve-receive error, and two kills by Parkway freshman Faith Jacobs had the Panthers on the brink of a win at 25-24. Edgerton scored two in a row to lead 26-25, but Parkway countered with two of its own and led 27-26. A net violation and serve-receive error put the Bulldogs up 28-27, and a kill by junior Emma Siebenaler ended it at 29-27.

The narrow loss seemed to demoralize the Panthers in the second set, but only temporarily. Edgerton rolled to a 15-5 lead, but Parkway, behind the hitting of Jacobs and senior Grace Swander, along with the terrific defense of junior libero Kris Kirby, inched its way back. With the Bulldogs up 23-17, Parkway took advantage of a rash of Edgerton errors to get within 23-22.

A hitting error had the Dogs within a point of the match at 24-22, but they wouldn’t score again. Two Swander kills tied it at 24-all. A clean service ace by Grace Rogers and a back-row kill by McKenna Johnson gave the Panthers an unlikely second set win.

After several early ties and lead changes in the third set, Parkway seemed to take command, using a 9-1 run to turn an 8-8 tie into a 17-9 lead. As you might expect, it was far from over. A slew of errors and violations led to a 7-0 Bulldog run that got Edgerton right back in it at 17-16. The Dogs, however, returned the favor with several errors and violations that allowed Parkway to escape with a 25-19 win that moved the Panthers into the semifinals.

Liberty-Benton over Kalida 25-13, 25-16

Kalida met its match against Liberty-Benton in the semifinals, a 25-13, 25-16 Eagle win. Liberty-Benton is loaded with height, leaping ability, and skill. Junior Hannah Warrington was the best leaper in the tournament, 6’0 freshman Isabella Granger can pound the ball with the best, and 6’3 sophomore Caitlin Elseser is a formidable blocker at the net. Add to that a super libero in senior Chloe Miller along with a talented supporting cast, and you have a possible state championship contender.

Parkway over Lima Bath 25-23, 25-14

In the second semifinal Parkway rode great defense led by Kirby and great offense led by Swander to a 25-23, 25-14 win over Bath.

The Panthers spurted to a 5-1 lead in the first set, but the Wildkittens inched their way back to tie it at 9-9. With Swander rotated out, Bath used a 7-2 run to turn a 15-15 tie into a 22-17 lead. However, when Swander returned to the front row the Panthers scored five straight to tie it at 22. A passing error gave the Kittens a 23-22 lead, but a Swander kill tied it at 23 and put Rogers, Parkway’s best server, on the line. She delivered a clean ace, and then another Swander kill gave Parkway the set.

The second set started with a 4-0 Bath run, but Parkway scored 10 in a row to lead 10-4. Nine of those points came with Rogers, the Panthers’ best server, at the line. Parkway gradually lengthened the lead to win convincingly 25-14.

Liberty-Benton over Parkway (championship) 25-16, 22-25, 25-17

Parkway came into the championship match as a heavy underdog against Liberty-Benton, but the Panthers played an outstanding match and gave the Eagles a real run for their money before losing 25-16, 22-25, 25-17.

L-B led 4-1 in the first set before Swander sparked a 6-0 run to put the Panthers up 7-4 and cause an Eagle timeout, which worked. Elsesser led a 10-2 run to get the lead back at 14-9, and the lead gradually got bigger from there.

The second set was similar to the first in that Parkway led early. At 11-6, Parkway, the Eagles called timeout, but this time it didn’t work. The Panthers never gave up the lead, although it got as close as one at 20-19 and 23-22. Granger, uncharacteristically, then blasted a kill attempt into the net, and an ace by Johnson gave Parkway the set.

The third set was a totally different story. Parkway never led in that one. L-B started the set with a 9-3 run and was never seriously threatened.