Senior night offers a chance for athletes to reflect back on their careers and share memories with their teammates and coaches.
While Monday night’s senior night for Portsmouth volleyball was much of the same, it also offered up a thought that perhaps this Trojans team isn’t done playing together just yet.
With sectional tournaments just days away all throughout Ohio, Portsmouth was able to prepare in a big way for tournament play when the Trojans hosted Gallia Academy.
The Blue Devils entered the match ranked #15 in the OHSVCA Division II Coaches Poll from week five. Gallia Academy hadn’t lost an OVC match since falling to Portsmouth 3-2 on Oct. 12, 2015 and were hoping to stretch that streak even further.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, the Blue Devils were able to extend that streak. But it didn’t come without a fight, as Portsmouth took the match two five sets before falling 3-2. (25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 21-25, 15-9)
Trojans head coach Sarah Prosch was ecstatic with the way her team played given the circumstances.
“Gallia has not lost an OVC match since the last time we beat them two years ago, and they actually have not lost a game to 25 since then either for the OVC,” Prosch said. “We’re the only school in the OVC to take them to more than three games, we took them to five tonight and battled to the last point.”
A match like this could provide a spark to Portsmouth, and it probably couldn’t come at a better time than now.
“It gives them a lot of confidence,” Prosch said. “They knew that they could come in and compete with them … the confidence that they’re going to get from this game is going to be amazing taking us right in to the tournament. It’s perfect timing.”
Especially considering the fight that Portsmouth showed to even stay in the match to start things off.
Gallia Academy took the first set 25-18, going back and forth with the Trojans before eventually pulling away.
It was in the second set that Portsmouth really started to play to their full potential. The Trojans started off the set on a 9-5 run before Blue Devils head coach Janice Rosier took a timeout.
Portsmouth continued their success out of the break, going on an 8-3 run to take a 17-8 lead. From there, though, Gallia Academy scored 13 unanswered points to take a 21-17 advantage.
The Trojans finally broke the slump, but when it was all over the Blue Devils had come back to take a 25-22 win in set number two.
There were two options for Portsmouth. They could either bow down and accept defeat, or dig deep and continue to fight and give it their all. The Trojans, to be expected, took the latter. With the experience and talent of Portsmouth, that turned out to be a wise choice.
Down to crunch time for the Trojans, they needed to win the next three sets to stage a comeback of their own and take a win from the hands of Gallia Academy.
It was the hustle and play at the net for Portsmouth that allowed them to stay in the match. The Trojans wouldn’t let any balls fall harmlessly to the floor. Instead, Portsmouth dove after every ball they thought might touch the ground. The Trojans were also tough at the net, blocking shots and keeping the ball from crossing to their side of the court.
The third set was a series of runs for both schools. Portsmouth opened on a 6-3 run, but Gallia Academy responded to tie it up at 6-6. The two teams traded points once more, fighting to even up the score at 13-13. At that point, the Trojans took a 6-2 scoring run to take a 19-15 lead, and the Blue Devils took a timeout.
Portsmouth continued the push, stretching the lead to 24-20 before Gallia Academy took their final timeout of the set. The Trojans took the set after the timeout after a Blue Devils score, 25-21.
Again in the fourth set, the hustle and great play at the net continued to be the theme for Portsmouth. The Trojans used a 7-1 run in the middle of the set to take a 15-10 lead as Gallia Academy took a timeout.
Breaking the huddle, Portsmouth continued to break down the Blue Devils as well in the fourth set. The lead grew to 24-14 in favor of the Trojans, but Portsmouth once again had problems closing out the set to get the win.
Gallia Academy scored seven straight points before the Trojans were able to get the final point of the set, winning 25-21. It was now down to just one set remaining, with the winner taking the match.
In the last set, the Blue Devils proved to be too tough. Gallia Academy struck early and often, claiming a 7-3 lead before Portsmouth and Prosch took a timeout. Then, the Blue Devils continued to shield the lead, advancing the score to 13-9 before the Trojans took their last timeout.
Out of the timeout, Gallia Academy scored the final two points to take the decisive set, 15-9.
Although the outcome wasn’t as expected, it provided an illustration of what Portsmouth could potentially be down the road in the tournament.
With six seniors leading the way, it seems like the sky is the limit for the Trojans, who took one of southeastern Ohio’s best volleyball teams down to the wire.
“These seniors have worked hard,” Prosch said. “Every single year they’ve come in and put in the time and put in the effort. They did a great job, they’re going to be missed beyond belief.”
When asked what Prosch and her staff would miss the most about her seniors, she responded “their work ethic.”
“I’ve never had a group of girls come in the gym every day and work hard,” Prosch said. “Each and every one of them, all six of them, have worked their butt off all four years and that’s what I’m going to miss the most.”
The six seniors are more than just a team, they show their friendship with each other on the court as well. Often times you can catch them all laughing and joking with one another, even in the midst of the action.
“That’s what it takes to be a great volleyball team, is to have that kind of bond and to get out there and work hard,” Prosch said. “That’s what it takes to compete with schools like Gallia.”
Portsmouth proved they could compete with Gallia Academy, and will look to build off the promising play against the Blue Devils moving forward. The Trojans conclude their regular season on Thursday at Coal Grove, and will play the winner of South Point and Rock Hill at home in the sectional tournament on Oct. 21.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT