WHEELERSBURG – As per usual, the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates played with laser-like focus, executed on point – and ultimately swept their latest opponent.
On Thursday evening at Wheelersburg High School, the Lady Pirates captured another straight-games Southern Ohio Conference Division II volleyball victory – this time completing the season sweep of the Waverly Lady Tigers with a convincing 25-10, 25-8 and 25-13 rout.
The Pirates remain undefeated on the season at 14-0, with 11 of those now coming in the SOC II.
In each of those 11 league instances, Wheelersburg has not dropped a single solitary set, as its other three wins were straight two-game triumphs as part of the annual Alexander Spartan Invitational.
The loss left the Lady Tigers at 14-3, and 8-3 in the SOC II.
The only other squad within striking distance of the Pirates is South Webster, but Wheelersburg has swept the Lady Jeeps while Waverly split with them – including in five games on Sept. 19.
With Eastern moving up to the SOC II this year, the Pirates play five more league matches in their bid to go a perfect – and sweet – 16-0.
But, if those final five matches are anything like Thursday’s, then don’t expect Wheelersburg to even drop a set.
“It’s been a good year so far and we’ve gotten off to a really good start. The girls came in tonight, and you could tell immediately that they were focused and intense,” said Wheelersburg coach Allen Perry. “I have a lot of confidence in these girls, and as soon as I saw that intensity and focus from them, I knew we were going to have a good night. Their timing was on, and they just played some really good volleyball.”
In the opening game, Waverly’s only lead stood at 3-2 – and the only ties were at 2-2 and 3-3.
The Pirates never trailed in the second set, as there were ties at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3.
The Lady Tigers did lead as late as 5-4 in the third game, including at 2-0 and 4-2, but beyond a 6-6 tie, Waverly wasn’t close the remainder of the way.
In each set, the Pirates put together a long streak of points to put the games out of reach.
In the opener, an attack error got the Tigers to within 7-5, but a kill by Ryleigh Meeker marked the first of 11 straight markers, as kills by Kylee Barney boosted the lead to 21-7 and 23-8.
A Tiger two-hit violation ended the first set at 25-10, as another attack error by the Pirates in the second set was the final Waverly point before Wheelersburg ran off seven straight to make it 10-3.
Back-to-back Pirate errors got Waverly within five (10-5), but Wheelersburg went on another impressive scoring spree – this time 11 consecutive points to make it 24-7.
Another Meeker kill closed the second set with Wheelersburg winning 25-8.
In the final game, the Pirates took a 6-5 advantage on an Emily Boggs kill, then broke the 6-6 tie by notching the next nine markers.
A service error ended that streak of points, but not before five more including Barney back-to-back kills made it 20-7 for the largest lead of the game.
The Tigers got to within 21-13, but another Barney kill combined with three attack errors finished things off.
“We had some really strong rotations in there and had some strong servers up when we went on those long runs,” said Perry. “And our servers were on tonight. In games like this, that’s the stat that is lost the most. We served the ball right where we wanted it, we forced a lot of free balls back, and they either made errors or it allowed us to set up our offense.”
The Lady Pirates’ pair of senior captains – Alli McQuay and Mallory Bergan – spearheaded that service effort, as McQuay collected 18 points and three aces while Bergan bagged 13 points with 100-percent serving.
Kaylee Darnell delivered 11 points, as the effective service set up the Pirate offense, paced by Barney with 10 kills and two blocks.
Boggs added eight kills and one block, while the sophomore Meeker managed seven kills and six blocks – three of them solo.
Lauren Jolly set for 31 assists.
McQuay chipped in three blocks, as Bergan (10 digs), Darnell (nine digs) and McQuay (eight digs) paced the Pirates defensively.
Perry praised McQuay’s leadership qualities, perfectly timing his postgame comments as she stood nearby, speaking with an assistant coach who was in attendance and representing a nearby university.
“It’s not going to show up in these stats, but Alli is a really great court leader,” said the coach. “She is very vocal and her communication and leadership is a big factor in our success.”
But, Perry said, the primary factor for the Lady Pirates is maintaining “focus”.
Quite frankly, if it’s anything like the laser-sharp effort of Thursday, then he need not worry.
“We can’t lose any focus,” said Perry. “If we lose focus, any team can play with us. If we come out as intense and focused as we did tonight, then I think we have a really good shot to win any match.”
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