The reason is so upsets can occur, but the coaches that seeded the teams in the Division IV Southeast District tournament knew what they were doing as both No. 1 seeds advanced to the regional tournament with wins Saturday afternoon at Wellston High School.
In the first district championship match-up, the top seed Reedsville Eastern defeated third seeded Eastern Pike in three games 25-22, 25-22, 25-22.
Eastern Pike had early leads in two of three games, but the lead was vanquished by Reedsville Eastern's senior Ryan Davis. In each game, Davis had an extended stay at the back line, serving up at least five consecutive points for her team in each game. Davis had 17 points total from the back line on the night.
Rachel Staker and Mary Polen both had nine points for Eastern Pike. Polen added 10 kills and five blocks for her team and Staker pitched in with eight kills and two blocks.
“We made too many mistakes on our side of the court,” said Eastern Pike coach Janet Day. “Missing a serve here or there, missing ball or hitting out of bounds, having a bad set. We accumulated so many mistakes but were still able to play with them. It makes you wonder what the outcome would've been had we played our game instead of making so many mistakes.”
In the other district championship game, the top-seeded Clay Lady Panthers were extended to five games by the second-seeded South Webster Lady Jeeps. The Lady Panthers captured the district crown winning by a score of 25-22, 12-25, 15-25, 25-19, 15-11.
Mallory White and Sarah Castle each had 20 points from the back line for the Lady Panthers in the winning cause. Katie Keaton had 18 points from the service line. Cami Groves had 13 points and also added eight kills for the Lady Panthers.
“We just worked well together as a team,” said White. “We always get along, and we have dealt with this situation in the past and we're used to handling it. We just wanted this because we've never been (to regionals) before and we're happy and excited.”
For the Lady Jeeps, Erin Sherman had 21 kills and three blocks. Erin Moore added nine kills and six blocks in the losing effort. Kasey Roth recorded eight kills, Molly Roark had kills and 18 digs, and Aarika Hollback collected four kills and dished out 27 assists.
The Lady Panthers trailed most of the way throughout the first game, but late in the game groves knocked own one of her kills and then went to back line serving up four consecutive points including an ace that sealed the victory for Clay.
In the second game, the Lady Jeeps took a one-point deficit to the service line when Erin Sherman took the ball and served up five straight points. Later in the game, Kayla Maynard rocketed nine straight points with an ace onto the other side of the net that gave the Lady Jeeps the second game.
In the third game, the Lady Jeeps once again used control of the service line as a weapon. Sherman rattled off four straight points building 12-8 lead. The lead still was at four 19-15 when Roark stepped to the back line serving up six points, finishing the game and giving South Webster a two games to one lead.
The Lady Panthers took a page out of South Webster's book in game four taking control of the back line. Castle served up four points to start the game and throughout the game White twice, Groves and Laura Belcher all had stints at service line delivering at least two points. A might Groves kill ended the fourth m in favor of the Lady Panthers setting up game five.
In the deciding game, Castle once again served up four points to lead off the game. Katie Wheeler stepped up with two kills and three blocks in the final game and white again delivered a pair of points from the back line. Castle almost fittingly ended up at the back line with a chance to win the match and delivered with an ace to seal the win for the Lady Panthers.
Records - South Webster 21-3; Clay 24-3.
BRET BEVENS can be reached at (740)-353-3101 ext. 242.