LEBANON — Parker Fields knew the exact moment his team might be in trouble.
Tied at a set apiece with Chaminade Julienne and leading 23-12 in the third set of a Division II district volleyball semifinal, senior Jenna Ditmer went up for a block and landed awkwardly and had to leave the match with an injury.
And even though Eaton went on to take the set 25-13, Fields said his team struggled to find its swagger for the remainder of the match as it bowed out of the tournament with a 25-23, 20-25, 13-25, 25-23, 15-11 setback on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at Lebanon High School.
Eaton ends the season 19-6 and as Southwestern Buckeye League West Division champions as well as sectional champions.
“I just thought that they had completely taken the momentum in (set) five and we were depleted and kind of discombobulated because they’re so used to running with Jenna,” Fields said. “I think Jenna going down really just, we were done. I think we pulled up on our attack. We kind of stood around and watched them play. I felt like they had the want to’s and we just got caught up watching them play the game. We got caught up in the emotion of the injury. And instead of embracing the moment and kind of going after it. We backed off.”
Fields praised the play of senior Raegan Prater, who replaced Ditmer.
“I’m not taking anything away from Reagan because Reagan came in and did a really, really nice job for us,” Fields said. “Jenna’s been a part of two league championship teams. She’s played in a sectional final, or district semifinal every year she’s been on varsity. So she’s been here every year. She’s a leader on our team. She’s really a sense of calm for people. So when you take that out of the mix, it kind of throws things off.”
Eaton had just six aces on the night and committed 10 service errors.
“That’s not going to win you ball games unless you’re just way better than the other team,” Fields said.
The first set went back and forth with the largest lead being three points. The set was tied at 23 before CJ closed it out with a kill and an Eaton passing error.
In the second set, Eaton grabbed a 4-1 lead and led by six on three occasions before winning.
“Second set I thought we played with a lot more energy. We passed the ball well. We ran a little bit of more of a diversified offense. And I think that helped us,” Fields said.
Eaton dominated the third set, racing out to leads of 5-1, 8-2 and was up by as many as 13.
“In set three we were completely in control of the game. And we were playing like we were having fun,” Fields said. “We were playing to win and then the energy just got sucked out of the team when when Jenna went down.”
In the fourth set, Eaton fell behind 5-2, 11-5 and 15-10 before mounting a rally.
Eaton closed to within 24-23, but a service error handed the set to CJ.
In the deciding fifth set, Eaton fell behind 4-1 and 8-4 and rallied to get within 11-9 and 13-11. CJ closed out the match with back-to-back kills.
Junior Olivia Baumann paced Eaton with 20 kills and nine digs. Junior Bailey Jerdon had 44 assists and four kills. Ditmer finished with nine kills. Sophomore Ellie Wilson contributed seven kills and junior Lily Shepherd added eight kills. Junior Elise Hewitt had 13 digs and sophomore Sam Witte added six digs.
”I thought we did some really good things tonight. I thought there were times where we served tough. We really attacked the ball. Liv really attacked the ball well from outside,” Fields said. “There were times in the match where we got some big blocks at important times.”
Eaton will graduate four seniors in Ditmer, Prater, Maddie Haynes and Grace Kelly.
“This group of seniors has been a joy to coach,” Fields said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever coach another player like Maddie Haynes. You want to talk about somebody that cares about the team, is positive all the time. It’s her. All of them have come up through the program. They’re good kids. They’re smart and they love to play. Reagan and Grace are the first ones in the gym every day. I feel for our seniors because they worked hard. They work hard and and they’re a good, smart group of kids.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr