Everything the Roughriders tried to do was for naught, as Crestview rallied to win, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-23, in a Division III district championship at Seneca East High School.
The Cougars (18-7) will face No. 3-ranked Eastwood (25-0) in a regional semifinal Thursday at Lake. Western Reserve finished its season with a record of 18-8.
"We just could not pass the ball at certain times," Western Reserve coach Lisa Muenz said. "That hurt us, and our biggest problem was we had 10 missed serves. I think that killed us. It kills your momentum and it kills your ability to score points."
The Roughriders came out with full confidence, chasing their first district title since 1990. Crestview took an early lead, but a string of six straight points by Western Reserve gave the Roughriders the lead. They opened a 16-11 lead after a block by Emma Weber.
The Cougars responded with six of the next seven points for an 18-17 lead. Later, Crestview led, 22-20, but Avery Tubbs and Morgan Boswell registered blocks, and Morgan Spettle and Boswell had kills for a 24-22. After a service error, Brooke Ommert smacked down a kill for an early lead.
"We worked on going pin-to-pin," Muenz said. "In the game that we did that, it was extremely effective. We also worked on keeping our sets off of the net a bit, so our hitters would have time to move around Crestview's block."
The Cougars responded in the second game with a quick 6-1 lead. But, Western Reserve matched the quick start, with seven straight points of its own for a 8-6 lead. The Roughriders held the lead until Crestview scored three straight points for a 13-11 edge.
Later, the margin was 15-14 in favor of the Cougars, but they opened the game up by scoring seven of the next eight points.
Western Reserve got within five points once, but a service error — a common theme that Muenz again noticed — gave Crestview the second game.
"Serving was a struggle for us tonight," she said. "It was one of our weaknesses. Crestview has a strong offensive team, but I do believe if we would have come in and served better, that the outcome would have been different."
The Cougars kept the momentum rolling in the third game. They pounced on the first three points of the game and never trailed in the game. Western Reserve got it back to a tie, 11-11, but could not quite get past the height of Crestview to take a lead. 6-foot-5 freshman Kyla Brafford and 6-2 freshman Kennedy Goon wreacked havoc on the Roughriders as the Cougars won points in bunches, using three- and four-point runs for separation in Game 3.
Kills by 6-foot junior Natalie Restille and 5-10 junior Breanna Swank gave Crestview a two games to one lead.
"Both teams have improved since the regular season meetings," Crestview coach Jody Ritchey said. "We knew what we were up against. Western Reserve has a lot of versatility. They have a big attack and blocked well."
In Game 4, the Cougars jumped out to a 9-3 lead after a serving error by Western Reserve. The Roughriders chipped away, and were within 13-12 after five straight points. Western Reserve went on to take a 15-14 lead after an ace by Hannah Burke, but that was the last lead for the Roughriders.
Crestview responded with four straight points and took a 23-19 lead after a block by Swank. The Roughriders got back to within 23-22 and 24-23, but a hitting error by Western Reserve ended the match and the Roughriders’ improbable run.
"The match was similar to the previous two meetings in that they are always intense games," Muenz said. "I feel as though we do not have the strength at the net. Defensively, our team is a bit stronger, so we can capitalize on that area. Crestview gets us offensively."
Restille (11 digs) and Goon (nine digs) each smacked 10 kills, while Brafford had six kills and two blocks. Shambre added 29 assists, 13 digs and five kills.
"Defensively, we switched it up," Ritchey said. "We started out in a man-up defense and then switched into a perimeter defense because Western Reserve was hitting our spots. Once we transitioned into a different defense in the second game, we pretty much took control of the match."
Burke had 25 assists and served for 11 points for the Roughriders. Morgan White had 25 digs and served for nine points, while Weber (27-of-31 hitting) and Boswell (25-of-30 hitting) each had 13 kills. Tubbs added nine kills, Andrea Robson had 23 assists and Joleen Muenz registered 22 digs.
"The ladies are so appreciative of the support they have received this season,” Muenz said. “The community members, families and friends have all been amazing."