Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — It took both Adena and Zane Trace just a combined seven sets to dispose of their district semifinal opponents Tuesday night. But neither the Warriors or Pioneers were satisfied after the victories.
In the first game of a doubleheader at Waverly High School, the Warriors (16-7) ousted Nelsonville-York by a 25-17, 23-25, 25-15, 25-14 final … one where the Buckeyes stole a second set after trailing 20-18.
“We were just kind of standing around. At this stage of the season, that shouldn’t be happening,” Adena coach Laura Smith told WKKJ after the game. “We’re going to have to work on that. It’s a communication thing, and a chemistry issue. We’ve been talking about communication on the court for a month. So we’re going to have to hit that big time for the next three days.”
Behind Jenna Martin and Ellie Harper, Adena took a 13-11 lead in the first set and never looked back, using a 6-0 run midway through the game to earn a match-opening eight-point win.
In the second, after grabbing a 20-18 lead, the Warriors surrendered a 4-1 run as Nelsonville-York took a 22-21 lead. From there, the scrappy Buckeyes (15-9) did what they needed to do to even the match.
However, in the third, behind Harper and Makenna Lovely, the Warriors rebounded with a convincing 10-point win — a set they never trailed in.
“[Lovely] came to play. You can tell her where to go and she can change mid-air where she’s going to go,” Smith said. “That’s nice to have on your team. Ellie puts a lot of pace on the ball and we were trying to feed her.”
In the fourth, much of the same took place. With Harper and Lovely continuing to get swings on the ball, the Buckeyes’ defense couldn’t provide an answer to Adena’s attack in a 25-14 loss.
Harper ended the night with 18 kills while Lovely tallied 16 kills of her own and a team-high 26 digs. Martin added nine kills, Camyrn Carroll had 21 digs and three aces, and Ari DaRif had 16 digs.
The Warriors advance to a Division III district final at 4 p.m., Saturday at Waverly. They’ll face Scioto Valley Conference foe Zane Trace for a third time this season.
Speaking of the Pioneers (15-9), as mentioned earlier, they managed to sweep Fairland (15-9) by a 25-18, 25-15, 25-22 final. But like the Warriors, they weren’t happy after a win.
While the final score may make it seem like it was a one-sided affair, Zane Trace hit its brakes at times instead of keeping its foot on the gas pedal.
“We didn’t come out with any intensity whatsoever. Our energy was low and we didn’t have any heart to just want to continue playing the game,” junior Hannah Hale said. “We didn’t cover, we were lazy … at the beginning of the games, we got up and we got comfortable. Against Adena, their back row is phenomenal, so we’re going to have to figure out what’s going on.”
Tuesday’s first set saw the Pioneers jump out to a 10-3 lead, a common theme in the match. After Laynee Hill made it an 18-10 game, Emily Allen logged a kill to make it 20-13 before ZT eventually closed the deal on a seven-point win.
In the second, the Pioneers went up 10-4 before later taking a 17-9 advantage. Fairland went on two short scoring bursts to cut the lead to 20-14 but never threatened the lead in a 25-15 loss.
With a 2-0 advantage in the match, the Pioneers grabbed a 9-5 edge in the third. Lexi Scott made it 14-8 with a kill before Gracey McCullough later made it 20-14. However, the Dragons managed to piece together a 7-1 run to tie things at 21-21.
The Pioneers called a timeout, regrouped, and ended things with a 4-1 run.
“Our energy, after scoring and coming together, helps a lot,” Hale said. “When we’re picking each other up and we’re screaming at each other, trying to encourage each other, it gets our energy level way up. We know what we need to do to get ourselves up.”
Alli Bennett led the Pioneers with 15 kills and 14 digs while Lexi Betts added 12 digs. Hill had seven kills, Hale had seven kills and four digs, Kinley May logged 16 assists and nine digs, Allen had five kills, and Scott had six of her own.
The Pioneers, who will now meet with Adena, have lost to the Warriors twice this year already. On Sept. 10, the loss came in three sets, while ZT pushed Adena to four on Oct. 3.
Needless to say, the Pioneers would like nothing more than to get a win and advance to a Division III regional semifinal. But they know their work is cut out for them.
“We have confidence at times but there’s also times where we think just because we don’t have seniors on our team or that we’re just so young, we’re not going to be as good as a team that does have [experienced players],” Hale said. “In all honesty, our freshmen pick us up. So we just need to come out with the confidence that we’re good enough to beat any team.”