The Falcons stretched their lead to six in the first game at 17-11 but the blocking ability of Jada Jenkins and kills of Katherine Meriwether of Portsmouth, the Trojans clawed back to make the final of the first stanza a respectable 25-19.
“They hustled tonight but we had a lot of things not go our way which stinks but they played hard and kept hanging with them,” Portsmouth coach Sarah Barney said.
The second game saw Minford roar out to a 7-0 lead before Portsmouth came back on the power of Jenkin’s leaping blocks and two Tyarra Barnes kills to make it 7-6.
The Falcons took control behind the power of Jordyn Pennington’s serving as she recorded three aces in the game and also forced unsettled returns by the Trojans giving Minford the second game 25-18.
“Our serving was really good tonight,” Minford coach Amanda Nickel said. “Jordyn was really on for us and our passing was weak at times but I was satisfied with how we played.”
Minford’s Kelsey Conkey had a strong night and so did teammate Kyle Berry as they recorded seven and five kills, respectively. Their net prowess proved to be too much for Portsmouth in the third game.
“We are moving better and talking better and you could see that tonight,” Nickel said.
The Falcons put an exclaimation point on the match with a definitive 25-10 win in the final game of the match.
Nickel felt much of the credit for their win belonged with their lone senior, Ashley Oesch.
“Ashley is our setter and has done really well for us and always puts the balls in our hitters hands and she’s been a great player for us this season,” Nickel said.
Minford’s record improves to 7-14 and they will move on to play Northwest on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Sectional Final.
“We beat Northwest once and they beat us once,” Nickel said. “We are very capable of winning we’ve just got to get back in and work on our fundamentals and work on better passing.”
The Trojans saw a four-game improvement on last season’s record under first-year coach Sarah Barney.
“There aren’t words to describe this season and how our girls worked their butts off,” Barney said. “They’ve turned this program around in one year and I’m excited for years to come because of what they have done.”
Portsmouth’s only senior, Kasey Simpson, was one of the reasons for the improvement over a year ago.
“Kasey is one of our best defensive players and it’s going to be real tough to see her go because of her leadership and how hard she plays,” Barney said. “She came up with things tonight that made you say wow and she showed a lot of heart trying to get the season to continue.”
Portsmouth’s season record ends at 5-18.
BOB STRICKLEY may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kills: Minford - Berry 5, Conkey 7, Oesch 4, Pennington 1, Portsmouth - K. Meriwether 8, Barnes 3, Jenkins 1
Aces: Minford - Pennington 4, Berry 1, Oesch 1, Conkey 1, Portsmouth - J. Meriwether 2, K Meriwether 1, Jenkins 1.
Blocks: Minford - Conkey 1, Berry 1, Portsmouth - Jenkins 7, K. Meriweather 1
Digs: Minford - Pennington 2, Conkey 2, Berry 2, Portsmouth - Meriwether 1, Jenkins 1