SOUTH WEBSTER — During Tuesday’s preeminent Southern Ohio Conference Division II volleyball match, the South Webster Lady Jeeps started — and finished.
Their start was one in which they took the game to visiting Wheelersburg, Lady Jeeps coach Darcee Claxon later said following their 3-2 (25-19, 25-13, 22-25, 21-25, 15-10) victory over the previously-unbeaten Lady Pirates.
“The first two sets we executed our game plan to perfection. In the third set you could see a little bit of fear, little intimidation. We went back to being safe, and you can’t win ball games being safe,” Claxon said. “That’s what we talked about in the huddle is you have to be aggressive and execute our game plan. Super proud of them for re-gaining momentum, they battled point for point and took the game to Wheelersburg.”
A five-set game would be Wheelersburg’s only chance of leaving South Webster with a win after dropping the first two— a whim that sparked the Lady Pirates to win the third and fourth sets.
‘Burg coach Allen Perry spoke of the pride in his team for battling back to force the first to 15 race in the deciding fifth set.
“Super proud of my girls because they fought through that, put the pressure back on and forced it to go to five sets. It was like a tale of sets in the first two sets and the last three,” Perry said. “Unfortunate turn of events that put us behind unfortunately, but we got to watch some good volleyball tonight.”
Tuesday’s meeting wasn’t the first time these pair of Southeast District volleyball powers went to a fifth set.
In the first go-around, it was the Lady Pirates that won the deciding set 15-9.
This time, South Webster avenged their early season defeat by claiming the fifth set 15-10.
“You’re super excited when you come out with this win, especially early in the season dropping the five-set game to ‘Burg and the next game losing a five-set game to Adena. You hope at this point you’ve learned some things and your underclassmen are a little more seasoned,” Claxon said. “We have just four upperclassmen, the rest are freshmen and sophomores — that makes a big difference in these five set matches. I was hoping they were able to come together, settle in and finish that game.”
“We got off to a slow start. I didn’t think we were communicating very well. And when you’re playing really, really good teams, they force you into those situations and put the pressure on you and cause those communication issues,” Perry said. “My hat’s off to them and their program, they’re such a great team.”
Six different South Webster players logged at-least seven kills while combining for 57 as a team.
Junior Bella Claxon led the Lady Jeeps with 14 kills, while junior Skylar Zimmerman and sophomore Mia Crum had 10 kills apiece.
Senior Natalie Adkins had nine kills, as senior Riley Raynard and sophomore Makayla Raynard each had seven.
Crum had a team-high four blocks, while Bella Claxon led the way with 40 assists and five ace serves.
Four different Lady Jeeps had at-least 20 digs on the night.
Zimmerman finished with a team-high 30, freshman Addison Claxon had 26, and sophomore Lauren Kaltenbach and Makayla Raynard had 20 apiece.
“A lot of people came up in big moments. Our back row did an excellent job — Lauren (Kaltenbach) had some big moments, Skylar played really well back there. For Addison to be a freshman, her passing was very consistent. Bella does a great job distributing offense and she picks apart the defense — her second ball attack in the front row when she’s setting is some of the best I’ve seen. And our hitters, they were some moments when they came up big,” Coach Claxon said. “It’s a team effort for us. Last year we had some big, dominant hitters, this year everyone’s got to pull their weight. Everyone filled knew their role and filled that role.”
For Wheelersburg, sophomore Gracie Perkins had a team-high 17 kills, while senior Lexie Rucker had 14.
Rucker led the Lady Pirates with 22 digs, as senior Kiera Kennard had 14 digs.
Senior Makenna Walker finished with a team-high 36 assists and freshman Grace Woodward had a team-high two ace serves.
The win improves South Webster to 12-2 overall (9-1 SOC II), as Wheelersburg falls to 11-1 (8-1 SOC II).
The result also means that both teams now have one loss in league play — and are tied atop the SOC II standings.
And, of course, with South Webster’s move up into Division III — after winning a regional championship last fall in Division IV — there’s a chance that the two Scioto County volleyball powers meet for a third time in the postseason.
Whether it be at the district or regional stage, a potential third meeting between the Lady Jeeps and Lady Pirates is a possibility both coaches have pondered.
“It’s a possibility. Thirty-one teams in Division III in the Southeast District, definitely a possibility,” Claxon said. “We’ll see what happens.”
“I hope so,” Perry said.
Wheelersburg 19 13 25 25 10 — 2
South Webster 25 25 22 21 15 — 3
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved