Brock Netter, Staff Writer
FRANKFORT — Adena senior Ari DaRif may not have known it, but she was in danger of being on the wrong side of history heading into the year.
Every senior class at Adena had won at least one outright SVC championship dating back to 1990. But that streak was in jeopardy. DaRif was still searching for that coveted prize.
However, the Warriors (18-1, 13-1 SVC) came through for their lone senior by making quick work of Huntington on Thursday, winning 25-21, 25-10, 25-18. Earlier in the week, they secured a share of their first conference title since 2016. Now, it’s undisputed and the 24th under coach Laura Smith.
“We’ve put so much work in for the past three years and to finally get the conference title means a lot,” DaRif said. “We had a lot of returning experience from last year and we finally put it all together, so this is a great feeling.”
The Warriors started out hot with DaRif at the serving line, seizing a 7-1 lead in the first set.
Later, Makenna Lovely made her presence felt with a pair of kills before stepping back to the service line herself and notching back-to-back aces for a 16-7 lead.
Huntington (14-7, 8-5 SVC) made a late rally, cutting the lead to 24-21, but Jenna Martin came up with a kill to finish the opening set for Adena.
“After the first set, we sort of just asked ourselves what we were doing,” Adena’s Ellie Harper said. “We needed to get our energy up, so we had to start celebrating after every point and once the bench picked up the energy as well, we kept the momentum going.”
Camryn Carroll set the tone from the service line in the second … a theme in the match … logging a pair of aces as the Warriors took a 6-0 lead in the second.
The rout was on from there. With DaRif later serving, the Warriors went on a 7-0 run as the senior tallied a pair of aces, pushing the lead to 15-2. The lead swelled to 22-5 before Adena closed out the win.
“I try to mainly keep a flat serve and sort of float it as well,” DaRif, who finished with three aces, said. “I was trying to mix it up and switch my serves. But I kept consistently serving at the same spot since it was working for me.”
Huntington came out with some fight early in the third, making Adena work for the win as the game was tied 8-8. But as Lovely, Carroll and Martin began to heat up from the service line and at the net, the lead grew to 16-9.
Although Huntington managed to cut the lead to 21-16 later in the set, the deficit was too big to overcome. A pair of Lovely kills, a Carroll ace and another kill from Martin sealed the deal on an outright conference title.
“We were so close last year [to winning the SVC], which made us work hard because we knew that we could do it,” Harper said. “We worked on offense, defense and everything in between so much. Our hitting has been really good, our blocking has been good, our passing as well … so it’s all come together nicely this year.”
Makenna Lovely led the Warriors with 11 kills, 15 digs and two aces while Harper and Martin each totaled 10 kills. Carroll had four aces and 14 digs, DaRif finished with three aces, 12 assists and seven digs, and Hope Garrison had 11 digs. Makaela Lovely also chipped in, tallying 20 assists.
For Huntington, Megan Steele had nine kills and seven digs while Katie Hirsch finished with eight kills and 13 assists. Carly Dyer also assisted, ending the night with five kills and 14 digs, a team high.
Now with the conference championship locked up, the Warriors look ahead to the tournament where they’ve earned the top seed in Division III’s Southeast District.
They’ve set high goals for themselves after winning a district title last season, but they’re taking things one game at a time. That begins with the winner between South Point and Wellston in their opening tournament game on Oct. 24.
Meanwhile, Huntington takes on Ironton that same day in its opening tournament game.
“Our goal from the very beginning was to make another deep tournament run,” Harper said. “I feel like we sort of let up in the last set of our district final last year, and that can’t happen this year. We have to push all the way until the very end.”