EATON — Earlier in the season, the Bellbrook Golden Eagles swept visiting Southwestern Buckeye League, Southwestern Division rival Eaton to hand the Eagles their only division loss.
On Thursday, Eaton returned the favor.
Eaton combined solid blocking with a hard-hitting attack to claim a 26-24, 25-21, 25-16 win and earn a share of the SWBL Southwestern title. It’s Eaton’s first division title since 2003.
The Golden Eagles won the division crown last season.
“It’s very tough to win here. But not only that, Eaton played awesome. They were phenomenal,” Bellbrook coach Lynzee Johnson said. “Their block was huge, they killed and crushed every ball. They were ready to play.”
The first game was reminiscent of a pair of boxers just looking for a weakness in the other’s arsenal. Bellbrook (18-4, 11-1 SWBL Southwestern) had the set’s biggest lead at 14-11, but Eaton’s Brittany George (twice), Ariel Richardson and Emma McKinney bashed consecutive kills to retake the lead. Bellbrook led 23-21, but two George kills and a Stacia Washington block gave the Eagles the lead for good.
“I think that was the key to the match, right there,” Eaton coach Parker Fields said of the early first-game rally. “We had no errors during that run, and I really think we realized right then that we could take control of this match.”
With the second set knotted up at 10-all, Eaton went on another mini run to take control of that game as well. A Richardson bash, a Bellbrook miscue off Jackie McCafferty’s Eaton serve, and a Julia Titus block put Eaton in control for an eventual 25-21 win.
After the host Eagles battled back from an early 5-1 deficit to tie things up at 5-5 and then 7-all, the third set had more Eaton dominance. George’s final kill of the night gave Eaton a commanding 23-16 lead, then a deep Bellbrook hit clinched the match for Eaton.
“It’s taken two years …” Fields said while wiping away tears of joy. “We were in this same position last year and couldn’t make it happen. These girls work harder than anyone else, and I’m so happy for them. They earned a share of this title, by beating a very talented Bellbrook team.”
Bellbrook is the fifth seed in the Division II Fenwick Bracket of the postseason tournament. They have a first-round bye, then they’ll face either sixth seeded Lemon Monroe or 10th seed Shroder at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at Middletown Fenwick High School.
Eaton (19-3, 11-1 SWBL Southwestern) came out as the third seed in the same DII Fenwick bracket. They open tournament play Saturday with a noon match against Wilmington, the 12th seed. Should they defeat Wilmington, and then defeat either fourth seeded Kettering Alter or no. 5 seed Hamilton Ross in the second round, they could meet up with Bellbrook for another rematch in the sectional tournament finals. That match would take place at 3 p.m., Oct. 24 at Fenwick.
“That’s what I told my girls after the match,” Johnson said. “If we hold up our end of things, we might get a rematch against Eaton in a couple weeks. We’ll be ready for that contest, for sure.”
Reach John Bombatch at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.