Sometimes, the simple difference of whether a team advances to the next round or not is if said team can get extra contributions from other sources within its roster.
On Tuesday evening, the Wheelersburg Pirates’ volleyball program obtained just that as critical efforts from Adyson Rase, who obtained 13 digs on the evening, as well as Kaylee Darnell and Emily Boggs, who added 15 kills off of the pine, gave Wheelersburg the extra boost that it needed to prevail over North Adams, 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 25-19) in a Division III District Semifinal that was held in Waverly en route to defeating the Lady Devils for the second time in 17 days.
In Allen Perry’s eyes, the victory took nothing less than a team effort.
“In all honesty, North Adams was improved from the last time that we saw them,” Perry said. “They had gotten healthy since the last time that we played them, so our girls had to respond. Our younger girls really stepped up last night, and we really played together as a team.”
The teamwork that Wheelersburg displayed on Tuesday evening was evident simply in the stats behind the play of Abbie Kallner, who collected 41 assists, nine digs, and a kill on the evening. Kallner’s deft passing abilities allowed five Lady Pirates to collect at least seven kills or more on the night.
Leading the way in that category for the Lady Pirates was Alli McQuay, who showed off her splendid skills on Tuesday evening with another outstanding effort. After struggling to get going early in the first set, McQuay moved to the back row and used her strong leaping abilities to obtain a half-dozen kills from the back row alone en route to a 14-kill performance. The sophomore also obtained 15 service points, 11 digs, and three aces to round out an excellent performance in all areas.
“Alli’s back row attacking in sets one and two were the difference makers for us,” Perry said. “She had five or six kills from the back row. Abbie finding her for those kills just shows her intelligence, and knowing where to find points. Going to the freshmen as much as she did last night shows the team of team chemistry that we have, and Abbie, in general, does a really good job.”
Offensively, Wheelersburg used Kallner’s passing abilities to get Darnell and Boggs rolling early and often. Darnell, like McQuay, was stellar on all fronts with 11 digs, 10 service points, seven kills, and five blocks, while Boggs obtained eight kills, two digs, and two assists en route to committing only one attack error for the match.
“Kaylee and Emily really stepped up for us,” Perry said. “Emily, in particular, has just recently been getting some more playing time after playing junior varsity for us throughout the regular season. Her confidence has improved, and she went out last night with eight kills and only one attack error. That’s pretty daggone good. Kaylee is undersized for a hitter, but she can jump, and man, can she spot some holes. She’s not overpowering, but she scores points, and that’s the main thing. We just have a good freshman group.”
As good as the offensive attack was for the Lady Pirates, it was the defense that allowed Wheelersburg to be as successful as it was. In fact, the entire unit collected an astounding total of 89 digs as a team, with Ellie Ruby’s 23 leading the charge. Mallory Bergan also added 11 digs of her own and five blocks to stifle North Adams’ offensive attack throughout the evening.
But as solid as the duo has been throughout the entire year, Perry believed that Rase was the X-factor in the overall result.
“Looking back on it, I believe that North Adams’ gameplan was to attack Adyson,” Perry said. “They probably thought that she was a weakness of ours. In games like that, good coaches do that, and good players respond to it. Adyson was able to respond to it, and I believe that she had the game of her career last night from a defensive standpoint as a result.”
Rase, who added eight kills to go along with her 13 digs, was followed by Bergan’s seven kills. Bergan, who added 10 service points of her own, was followed by Mia Darnell, who collected 11 service points and nine digs to bump Wheelersburg’s service point total to an impressive 47 for the contest.
With the four-set victory, Wheelersburg will move on to the Division III, Waverly I District Finals, where a matchup with Piketon, and Cami Chandler — the Scioto Valley Conference and Division III, District 14 Player of the Year — looms.
“Our goal is to beat a Scioto Valley Conference program,” Perry said. “The elite programs in Southern Ohio are up there. From the beginning of the season, our goals were to win the SOC and get back to the district finals. We knew that we would see an SVC team in the district semifinals or finals, and that is a goal of ours. Piketon’s going to be a tough hill to climb. They’ve got two really good hitters up there, and if we can just slow them down and score points faster than they do, it’ll be more of a sprint race than a defensive battle. It’ll come down to who can score points the fastest, I believe.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7