Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — When both Megan Steele and Allison Basye are both swinging with all their might at the net, good luck stopping either.
Almost immediately upon the start of Wednesday’s Division III district semifinal match, Ironton (14-9) seemed to know it had met its match. Early in the first set, Steele sent a ball whizzing to the floor to give Huntington a lead before Basye followed suit moments later.
The duo set the tone in a straight set win by a 25-13, 25-9, 25-10 final … a win where the Huntsmen (17-7) never really sputtered out of first gear.
“It was a really great team win tonight,” Basye said. “We came in here and we knew Ironton was pretty good and we knew we had to play together to push through and get the win. That’s what we did.”
If you recall, in last year’s district semifinal match, Huntington suffered a five-set loss to Southeastern by a 25-22, 23-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-10 final.
Going into Wednesday night, that loss hadn’t escaped the team’s memories.
“Last year, we lost in the district semifinals and I didn’t want to do that again. So I played with everything I had,” Steele said. “We know that losing our seniors is going to be tough this year. So coming into this game, we had to play our best game. Everybody had to play well. It couldn’t be one or two players, everyone had to play well tonight.”
As the final score line indicates, there wasn’t a set that was closely contested.
The first game started with a kill from Huntington’s Lauryl Shope. From there, the Huntsmen built an 8-6 lead and ripped off a 7-0 run to go up 13-6 before running away with a 25-13 win.
In the second, with her team leading 5-1, Steele logged Huntington’s next five kills to make it a 9-2 game. Basye was effective down the stretch and Shope ended the sequence with another kill, sealing a 25-9 victory.
“We just go out and do our thing,” Basye said. “It’s going out and wanting to get the win.”
More of the same took place in the third as Huntington built a 9-4 lead to start. Then Steele, at the service line, went on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 17-4. That was more than enough to allow her team to cruise the rest of the way in a match-clinching 25-10 win.
“Each practice, we’ve been working really hard and I think if we do what we did tonight, we can pull out a win [in the district final],” Steele said. “We played awesome tonight.”
Steele led the team statistically with 19 kills and 12 digs while Basye followed with 12 kills and 15 digs. Alyssa Steele added 37 assists and seven digs, Harmony Henneberger finished with 14 digs, Shope had five digs, Katie Hirsch had six digs, and Emily Morris logged three kills.
Huntington to advance to a Division III district semifinal against Westfall at 5 p.m., Saturday at Waverly. The Huntsmen and Mustangs have already met twice this season, needing at least four sets in each match to decide a winner.
“We have to come out and play like we did tonight and we should be pretty good,” Basye said. “I think it’ll be a pretty good game Saturday.”