PDT Sports Writer
WAVERLY — One of these days, the Wheelersburg volleyball team will be able to figure out the puzzle that is Chillicothe Huntington.
Unfortunately, Tuesday night was not that time. For the third time in as many seasons, the No. 1 Pirates had their season come to an end in a three-set Division III Southeast District semifinal sweep 25-23, 25-14, 25-20 to the No. 4 Lady Huntsmen. While this year’s tournament was moved from Athens High School to Waverly High School, Wheelersburg coach Kendra Massie felt her team did not have the right answers.
“We played hard but it wasn’t our night tonight,” Massie said.
The Pirates did race out to a 13-5 lead to open the contest, holding Huntington to single serves on six occasions during the stretch. However, a string of serves by the Lady Huntsmen’s Alayna Lytle closed the gap to 14-11 before Wheelersburg was able to break serve after her fifth offering.
Massie credited communication and moving around to her team’s early success.
Huntington took its first lead of the set at 22-21 on Lytle’s first serve in the next rotation. The Pirates were able to force a deadlock on Lytle’s next serve but the Lady Huntsmen scored three out of the next four to take the set.
“They started making plays and my girls got down,” Massie said.
Despite four ties in the second set, the last at 8-8 thanks to an ace by Wheelersburg’s Sydney Holden, Huntington went on a 17-6 run for a 2-0 lead in the match. Massie knew her team needed a boost.
“I said making excuses are weaknesses, not talking is a weakness, blaming it on other people is a weakness,” Massie said. “I just really preach(ed) to be strong and to work as a team, not as individuals.”
Life was brought back to the Pirates in the third as five ties were the result of the first 12 points. Wheelersburg found itself down 18-10 at one point before rallying to 24-20 but the Lady Huntsmen broke Holden’s serve to close out the match and the Pirates’ hopes of advancing.
Maggie Stegman led Wheelersburg with 11 kills in her final high school match while Hannah Duckworth added 28 assists and Josie Silvey chipped in with 11 digs. Stegman, along with Meagan Swick, will be two seniors Massie will have to let go to graduation.
“I thought they really showed a lot of emotion tonight,” Massie said of Stegman, Swick and Brooklyn Adams, the team captains.
The loss is the fourth-straight defeat in tournament play to a team from the Scioto Valley Conference. In 2010, Westfall swept the Pirates in the district finals.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Chillicothe Huntington — 25 25 25
Wheelersburg — 23 14 20
Records — Huntington 14-9; Wheelersburg 14-10.