On Thursday evening in Logan, the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates volleyball team fell to Tusky Valley in straight sets in the regional semifinal (25-19, 18, 11).
“Like I said last week” said Wheelersburg head coach Allen Perry following his team’s loss Thursday, “Our goal was to close the gap. We’re closing it and I think we’re going to get there next year. We have a setter to replace and a right-side hitter. I think we have the tools sitting around that we can put together another really good team next year. I’d like to get another shot at it. Our ultimate goal when we made all of our goals was to get to state. Didn’t happen this year, but one of our goals was to close that gap between us and the northern teams. I think we did that, goal reached. I know the girls don’t think that now, but when they look back on it: an undefeated season, 26-1, it’s nothing to hang your head at.”
Although Lady Pirates fell in straight sets, Perry is right, the gap has been narrowed between the level of play of schools like Tusky Valley and those from the Southeast District, even from their regional semifinal loss to Tusky Valley just a year ago.
In the first set, things started out very back and forth as it was a struggle for either team to stake out an advantage early. Ultimately, the Lady Trojans were able to get a lead of 15-13 and wouldn’t look back from there. They would go on to win the first set 25-19 in what would be the closest margin of the night.
The second set was much of the same between the two volleyball giants on the region. However, the Lady Trojans were able to once again pull away to win the second set 25-18 and take a 2-0 match advantage.
The third set was all Lady Trojans from the get-go. With their berth in the regional championship on the line, Tusky Valley went on to win the third and final set 25-11 and take the 3-0 match victory over the Lady Pirates.
Wheelersburg returns most of the players from a team that finished 26-1 this season and will more than likely be primed for another regional run next season. However, as Perry mentioned, he will have to replace the school’s all time leader in assists in senior Abbie Kallner with other 2,000 assists for her career, and an outside hitter in senior Addyson Rase.
“When I came here, you look for those people who will accept you and work towards your goals” said Perry when reflecting on his two seniors, “Those were two of my allies in that. Addyson, what can I say about a girl who’s position I changed three times in two years. Where am I going to need her the most? I kept moving her around and questioning myself on whether it was the right move to make. She never got to settle into a spot, but she was my ultimate role player over the last two years. I’m going to miss her and her smiling face all the time. And then I lost to graduation the best setter in Wheelersburg history. That’s a tough one to recover from, but both of them mean the world to me.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT