John Bruce, Contributor
FRANKFORT — For the second time in as many meetings, two Scioto Valley Conference heavyweights went to battle in five sets.
And for the second time, experience won out in the end.
In the first match between Unioto and Adena, the Shermans won in five sets. They say history repeats itself and Tuesday is a great example why.
Unioto continued its wild ride of a season with a 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 17-25, 15-9 win over host Adena, which marks the second consecutive win by the Shermans over a team near the top of the SVC standings … Unioto knocked off previously unbeaten Westfall on Thursday.
Tuesday’s match could be summed up by “a game of runs” with each team taking the other’s shot and then responding in a big way.
The first set appeared to have the Shermans (12-6, 7-4 SVC) in total control as they led 20-15 after a very long rally. However, Adena finished the sequence on a 10-3 run to take a 1-0 advantage. Adena sophomore Makenna Lovely hammered home a kill to finish the set.
The Shermans responded in a major way, backed by seniors Hallie Pinkerton and Emily Coleman who each made big-time plays. Pinkerton played big on the attack, as well as the service line, while Coleman made several athletic plays in the back row to keep plays alive.
Adena’s Makenna and Makaela Lovely did all they could to keep the Warriors in the set, but Unioto’s ingenuity at the net and on defense were enough to win 25-16.
The third was the type of ultra-competitive and back-and-forth action that you hope to see at any sporting event.
Unioto lept out to a 9-4 lead following multiple kills by junior Kacey Pierce, while freshman Sophie Coleman had her first ace of the night in the mix as well. Adena responded with power from sophomore Ellie Harper to eventually knot the set at 10 before the Warriors had multiple hitting errors that helped the Shermans to a 16-12 lead.
But the Warriors (12-7, 8-3 SVC) weren’t done yet.
Sophomores Jenna Martin and Makaela Lovely put on a mini clinic to put the Warriors in front, even for a short time. Martin found some open floor with a kill before the left-handed Lovely used her power and craftiness to surprise the Tanks’ defense.
One point later, the duo combined for a block to put Adena ahead 18-17.
The Warriors extended that lead to 20-18 before Sophie Coleman stepped to the service line and turned the tide. Coleman served up back-to-back aces before an Adena hitting error gave the Tanks a lead they wouldn’t lose.
Unioto finished off the third set victory with two emphatic kills from the right hand of senior Amber Cottrill to win 25-22.
Midway through the fourth, it appeared that it was all over as Unioto stormed out to a 13-5 lead.
Coleman was spectacular at the service line again, while Jerzi Paul made her presence known with two solo blocks.
However, Adena still had Ellie Harper, who took over halfway through the set and led a furious comeback effort by the Warriors. Adena finally tied the set at 16 after a knuckleball ace from Camryn Carroll and, after a kill by Martin put the Warriors up, Unioto called its last timeout of the set. Harper finished off the comeback with a kill to even the match at 2-2 as the Warriors forced a fifth set with a 25-19 set win, winning 20 of the last 26 points.
Momentum appeared to be with the Warriors, but Unioto’s Pierce was having none of that as she completely took over the match in the final set. Pierce had five (5!) kills in the first seven points for the Shermans and gave the purple and gold a quick 7-2 lead.
Adena gave some pushback, but couldn’t overcome the large deficit as Pierce finished the set, and match, with a kill.
Pierce finished the match with a game-high 27 kills while Sophie Coleman and Ava Eldridge combined for 49 assists for the Shermans. Emily Coleman led the Tanks with 28 digs, Cottrill showed her all-around game with 12 kills and 19 digs, and Paul and Cree Stulley played excellent defense at the net, combining for 8 solo blocks.
Harper led the Warriors with 17 kills, Carroll had a game-high 43 digs, Ari DaRif, Hannah Burns, and Makaela Lovely combined for 60 assists, and Makenna Lovely had 10 kills and 26 digs.
Unioto will host Paint Valley on Thursday with Senior Night activities in between the JV and varsity matches. Adena makes a short trip to Kinnkinnick to battle Zane Trace the same night.