SOSA Staff Report
WAVERLY — Wild, emotional, thrilling … those types of adjectives could go on and on in describing Saturday’s Division III district championship match between Adena and Zane Trace.
The pair of Scioto Valley Conference opponents provided an instant classic in front of a jam-packed gym at Waverly High School. In the end, Adena (18-7) outlasted the Pioneers (15-10) by a 25-18, 25-17, 19-25, 35-33 final.
Yes, you read that fourth set score correctly.
“These kids have never made it to the regional semifinals,” Adena coach Laura Smith said. “They were happy to just make it past the district semifinal, into the final. but we didn’t want to be satisfied. We have these shirts that say ‘It’s just around the corner.’ We told our kids that if you get around that corner, it’s time to kick and give everything you’ve got.”
The Warriors used a combination of Ellie Harper and Jenna Martin at the net in the first set, as well as multiple Zane Trace errors, to earn a 25-18 win. They then carried the momentum into the second before seizing a 25-17 victory and a 2-0 match lead.
But in the third, something changed for Zane Trace.
“They just came out like gang-busters and they weren’t ready to go home,” Smith said of Zane Trace’s performance. “They got a lead and kept going on it. We didn’t have an answer.”
The Pioneers built leads of 11-8 and 18-11 before eventually cutting Adena’s match lead to 2-1 with a 25-19 win.
Then, in the fourth, pandemonium hit.
After the set was tied 15-15, a common theme, the teams played to a 25-25 tie as well. And then a 30-30 tie and … well, you get the point.
Finally, with the score knotted at 33-33, Adena dug deep and found a way to get two straight points for a 35-33 win, securing their first district title since 2016.
“My heart is still beating out of my chest. I’m so excited because we’ve never been this far in the tournament,” Martin said. “It feels great to come out this year and win [a district title].”
Martin led the Warriors with 14 kills while Makenna Lovely had 13 kills and 19 digs. Harper had nine kills, Camryn Carroll had a team-high 32 digs, Olivia Riley finished with four kills and 14 digs, and Hope Garrison tallied 12 digs.
For Zane Trace, Lexi Scott and Hannah Hale both had 11 kills while Emily Allen posted 10 of her own. Laynee Hill ended with seven kills and 14 digs, Alli Bennett had six kills and 22 digs, and Lexi Betts added 22 digs to the mix.
The Warriors’ “just around the corner” metaphor originated from a sermon that Adena girls basketball coach and pastor Andrew Day had given.
Now, “just around the corner,” is another Sweet 16 matchup for the heralded program.
Adena advances to a Division III regional semifinal against undefeated Wheelersburg, who beat Southeastern in four sets Saturday. The state-ranked Pirates will bring 70 straight set wins into the matchup.
“We just have to focus on what we’re going to do, how we’re going to play and play hard,” Martin said. “Just try to win.”