The Clay Lady Panthers looked dominant once again in their straight set victory over the Eastern (Meigs) Eagles Saturday afternoon which clinched their spot in the regional semifinals next week in Lancaster (25-17, 20, 13).
“I’m super proud of my team” said Clay head coach Sarah Hammond following her team’s 3-0 victory Saturday afternoon, “They all played really hard. Even with nerves at the beginning, they shook it right off and kept it together. To get three sets in a row is just fantastic.”
Clay came out of the gate firing on all cylinders with the district title on the line. The Lady Panthers claimed leads of 8-5 and 20-12, forcing Eastern to take timeouts to try and regroup. Despite their best efforts, they would not be able to overcome their large deficit as Clay went on to win the first set 25-17 in impressive fashion.
The Lady Panthers came out a little off in the second set, trailing 12-7 at one point which forced Hammond to take a timeout. However, Clay was able to regroup and retake the lead at 16-15, and ultimately go on an even bigger run to close out the set by a score of 25-20.
The resiliency and poise Clay showed at the end of the second set carried well over to the third and what would be the final set of the night. The Lady Panthers would jump out to 13-9 lead and go on to extend that lead by going on a 12-4 run to close out the final set at 25-13 and win another district championship.
Leading Clay in kills was Jensen Warnock with sixteen and Delanie Gilliland with nine. Setter Lila Brown led Clay in assists with 31 and also aces with three. Taylor Lewis had a big second set in which she was able to amass three solo blocks which was good enough to lead her team statistically in that category. Warnock also led Clay with fourteen digs while Skylar Artis had nine, and libero Shaelyn Vassar had a team high fourteen service receptions.
Clay advances to the regional semifinals where they will face Fairfield Christian Academy following the conclusion of the other regional semifinal match between Fort Frye and Notre Dame on Wednesday October 31st.
“It was definitely one of our goals to get to Lancaster” said Hammond looking forward to next week’s regional tournament, “But we’re not done yet. We have to go back to work, get ready for Wednesday. And now we have to make a new goal and try to just keep checking them off.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT