STEUBENVILLE - Oak Glen got the Meadowbrook monkey off of its back.
The Oak Glen volleyball team showed why it was the top seed in the OVAC Class 4A Tournament Saturday afternoon as it shook off a shaky first game to rally and to defeat the third-seeded Colts 15-25, 25-9, 25-11, in the tournament final Saturday afternoon inside Big Red's Crimson Center.
"It's wonderful," Oak Glen (24-3-2) head coach Ethel Riser said about winning the tournament title. "We played Meadowbrook, and this is the third time in the last three years we have played them. This is the first time we have won. It is really special."
Meadowbrook defeated Oak Glen and East Liverpool en route to winning the tournament title last season.
The Golden Bears have now won seven tournament titles with the previous one coming back in 2009. Oak Glen also won tournament titles in 1987, '89, '90, '96 and '97. The Golden Bears' seventh tournament title allowed them to move into a 7th place tie with Skyvue for the most tournament titles in history. Buckeye Trail leads the way with 13 tournament titles.
The Golden Bears also won the Class 4A regular season title this season.
Individually for Oak Glen in the final, Morgan Poling produced 10 points, 11 kills, one ace, two blocks and six digs, Vanessa Hissam scored nine points to go along with nine kills, two blocks and five digs and Jessica Stivason ended up with nine points, 10 kills, three aces and five blocks.
Carissa Williams collected eight points and 16 assists, Kenzie Rosenlieb tallied two points and 10 assists and Madison Juszczak delivered two points and seven kills. Emmy Delekta added three digs, Brianna Evans recorded one block and Taylor Allison netted one kill. Kami Koper contributed one dig.
Individually for Meadowbrook (14-8), Morgan Modro recorded 10 kills, Baylee Graham tallied six points, two assists and three aces and Sydnie DeLong ended up with four digs. Jessica Cottle collected three digs, Delaney Singleton netted six kills and two blocks and Kaylee Hunt contributed 21 assists. Sydney Black delivered one point and four digs and Alexis Poland added one dig.
"They just had different kids," Riser said asked if Meadowbrook did anything differently than it has in the prior matchups the last couple of years. "It is the mental game. They beat us the last two years. It got into their heads that they could beat us again, but then we started playing our game.
"I just had to remind them about what we have done and who we are. We are the No. 1 team and not the No. 3 team. They decided to play ball.
"The girls are excited. The Homecoming dance is tonight. We hoped to be out of here by 2 p.m. Now, the girls are going to have to hurry and get their hair done. Now, they can take an OVAC championship to the dance with them."
The Colts knocked off the Golden Bears in the semifinals in each of the past two seasons, but Oak Glen rebounded each time to win the West Virginia Class AA state championship.
The Golden Bears are a battle-tested group, and was able to rise to the challenge against Meadowbrook and put the rough first game behind them.
"I had a little talk with them," Riser said. "I did not yell. I did not scream. I told them we were the No. 1 team in the OVAC, and we were playing the No. 3 team. We have played a lot of tough teams, and we have beaten them. I told them we were the No. 1 team and that we needed to play like it.
"We turned it up, and we kept on playing. We were having fun, and we kept pouring it on."
Oak Glen advanced to the finals by defeating No. 4 seed East Liverpool, 25-23, 25-9, in the semifinals. The match was third between the Golden Bears and the Potters this season.
Individually for the Golden Bears, Poling picked up six points, five kills, six blocks and two digs, Rosenlieb collected six points, four kills, two assists and one dig and Stivason netted four points, four kills, four blocks and seven digs.
Also, Hissam added one point, seven kills and two digs, Williams tallied six points, 14 assists and two aces and Juszczak recorded six points and two digs.
Finally, Delekta delivered four assists and five digs, Alex Arnott produced two kills and one block and Evans ended up with one block.
Individually for the Potters, Kiara Cowart contributed four kills, two blocks and one dig, Paige Craig recorded five points, two kills and 10 digs and Madison White tallied one point, three kills and 10 assists.
Also, Caitlyn Davis delivered eight kills and two blocks, Sierra Voorhees collected four points and 10 assists and Taylor Ward added two points and four kills.
"This is the third time we have played East Liverpool this year," Riser said. "They did nothing different. It was the same game."
Meadowbrook advanced to the tournament final by defeating No. 2 seed Big Red, 17-25, 25-23, 25-19, inside the Joseph Stern Gymnasium.
For the Colts, Black contributed three points, 13 kills, one assist, two aces, seven blocks and six digs, Hunt collected four points, one kill, 30 assists, one ace and three digs and Graham recorded four points, one kill, one ace and two digs. Singleton produced 11 kills.
For Big Red, Taylor Young tallied eight points, eight kills, nine assists, two aces, one block and five digs, Abby Taylor collected two points, five kills, 10 assists, one block and seven digs and Brittany Bodo delivered one point, three kills, three assists and eight digs.
Also, Annie Nehrbas scored eight points to go along with six kills and six blocks, Carmie Biasi contributed seven points, two aces and nine digs and Mytia Barker recorded three points, two kills and nine digs.
Finally, Lysaih Rice produced our kills, two assists and four blocks.
Big Red led 23-22 in Game 2 forcing the Colts to call a timeout. Unfortuantely for the girls from Jefferson County, Meadowbrook responded to score the final three points of the game to win the game and to tie the match at 1.
The Colts gained the advantage early in game three, and the girls from Guernsey County did not let up en route to recording the victory in the match.
"We played our best game because the girls were excited, and they didn't back down," Big Red (13-9) head coach Lynn Meyer said. "We made mental mistakes, but I am very pleased with how we are playing headed into sectionals. We did the little things. Meadowbrook is a great team."
Following Tuesday night's loss at Edison, Big Red practice for a couple of days inside the Joseph Stern Gymnasium instead of in the Crimson Center. The gymnasium is the smaller of the two gyms.
"It definitely helped us," Meyer said. "It helped us get use to the lose ceiling and the obstructions. We realized we had to control the ball. We had to pass the ball.
"It is an honor for us to play in this tournament. Making it to the tournament is always one of our goals.
"Meadowbrook has some nice hitters and a nice defense.
"We came right at them. We did not back up. I think we beat them at the net in the first two sets, but they beat us at the net in the third set. That was the difference.
"Our coverage was better. We had some coverage breakdowns against Edison. Our coverage work was much better today. Everybody played better today."
After the loss to the Colts, Big Red bounced back and defeated the Potters, 25-16, 25-22, in the consolation final.
Individually for Big Red, Nehrbas recorded four points, four kills, one assist, two aces, two blocks and two digs, Taylor tallied nine points, four kills, seven assists, one ace and three digs and Young collected three points, five kills, nine assists and two digs.
Also, Barker recorded eight points, one kill, three aces and three digs, Brittany Bodo delivered one kill, one assist and four digs and Biasi contributed three points and six digs.
Finally, Rice finished with three kills and one block.
Individually for East Liverpool, White tallied seven points, one kill and 12 assists, Cowart contributed three kills and four blocks and Craig recorded four points and three kills.
Big Red ran off several-straight points on Taylor's serve as Big red built a 17-8 advantage in the first game. Big Red later increased its lead to 11 points at 21-10.
The consolation final was the third meeting of the season between Big Red and East Liverpool.
"They did nothing different," Meyer said. "Sometimes when you play in the consolation final things don't go well because you lost the first match. I give my girls a lot of credit. They came to play. They did not let that loss affect their play.
"When I first looked into their eyes, I thought we were in trouble, but they came back ready to play."
Big Red's next match is at 6 p.m. Monday night against Cambridge in the Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional Tournament down at St. Clairsville High School. The winner of that match will play Edison at 7:30 p.m. in the second match of the night Tuesday.
"You would definitely like to go into Monday with a win," Meyer said. "The winner Monday plays again Tuesday."
Big Red will not practice today in preparation of their sectional match.
"You would like to have a day to prepare, but the girls have been really busy and the season is so hard they need to take a day to recuperate their bodies. They need to get some rest.
"We will come back Monday ready to go."
Meyer said she does not really know anything about the Bobcats.
"I know nothing," she said. "We will adjust well. I have talked to people about them. I will call someone tomorrow who has played them to find out what system they run.
"We just wanted to get through today. We are going to take it one day at a time."
This was Big Red's first appearance in the tournament since winning its lone tournament title back in 2005.
Oak Glen's next match is Tuesday at Wheeling Park. Oak Glen will also participate in a tournament Saturday down at Parkersburg South.
"Hopefully this gives us confidence going into the rest of the year," Riser said. "We played hard. We played well. We beat a good team. This should give us a boost going into sectionals in a couple of weeks. We have our sectional tournament, then regionals and then the state tournament.
"We are going to take it one step at a time. This is just one step. It's not the final step. It's just the first step."
Once the Golden Bears started rolling in the second game, the Colts were unable to slow them down.
"Meadowbrook has a nice team," Riser said. "I think they got a little flustered."
Oak Glen has faced tough competition throughout the season so far, and the Golden Bears will continue to see good teams throughout the remainder of their schedule.
"It was a good game," Riser said. "It was good competition. I like good competition. The tougher the competition the better. If you look at our schedule, we play a lot of the bigger Triple-A schools. I like playing good competition. The only way you get better as by playing good competition."