SOSA Staff Report
WAVERLY — Seventy. Straight. Sets.
Heading into Saturday’s Division III district championship against Southeastern, Wheelersburg laid claim to 67 straight set victories this season.
The SOC II champion and state-ranked Pirates (25-0) kept that streak alive and well in a sweep of the Panthers by a 25-23, 25-16, 25-20 final at Waverly High School.
“These SVC teams are battle-tested day in and day out. That makes a big difference,” Wheelersburg coach Allen Perry said. “The momentum shift was in the fact that my girls just do not give up. They just kept fighting.”
It wasn’t as easy as you might think, however.
To start the first set, Southeastern (13-13) jumped out to a 4-0 lead with four consecutive service aces. The Panthers then used that momentum to build a 17-11 lead.
Then, everything went south for Southeastern. The Pirates pieced together a 9-3 scoring run to tie the game at 20 and, using the height and athleticism of Kylee Barney, stole a 25-23 win to start the match.
While the first set was closely contested, the second told a different story. Wheelersburg jumped in front early and saw its lead cut to 14-13 midway through. But the Pirates pulled away, using an 11-3 scoring run to win 25-16 and take a 2-0 match lead.
In the third, Southeastern pushed the Pirates to a 20-20 tie. But ultimately, Barney, alongside teammates Alli McQuay, Mallory Bergan and Ryleigh Meeker, were too much to handle at the net as the Pirates sealed yet another sweep with a 25-20 win.
Barney led Wheelersburg statistically with 15 kills and seven blocks while McQuay had eight kills, 14 digs and two blocks. Meeker added eight kills and three blocks, Lauren Jolly ended with 34 assists and 18 digs, and Kaylee Darnell finished with 13 digs.
For Southeastern, Skylar Hice had 13 kills, Ameris Cooper posted 27 assists and 22 digs, and Lexie Lockwood finished with 25 digs.
It should also be noted that Hice ends her career as one of the most decorated players in Southeastern history. The talented outside hitter leaves behind a total of 1,026 kills, 162 aces, 132 blocks and 1,620 digs.
“Hats off to [Southeastern coaches] Jimmy [Hutton] and Paul [Tanedo]. What a fantastic program they’ve built,” Perry said. “They’ve been role models for me. Skylar was Player of the Year last year. She didn’t take a single thing off her swing all night long. She can hammer it. That’s for sure.”
The Pirates will now meet with Adena, which was a four-set winner over Zane Trace Saturday, in a Division III regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at Logan High School.
“We just have a never-die attitude,” Perry said. “Adena … it’s day and night between what [Southeastern] brings. What a defense they have. They’re solid. When you play a defense like Adena … I’m really kind of nervous about that. It’s a high-powered offense against fantastic defense.”