JACKSON – In their Division IV district final in the Jackson #1 district, the South Webster Jeeps withstood their opponent’s best punch.
Waterford, three-set winners over Eastern Wednesday in their district semifinal match, gave the Jeeps more than what they could handle, even claiming the second set over the top seeded Jeeps.
Ultimately, however, the Jeeps resiliency prevailed, lifting South Webster to a 3-1 win (25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 25-15) over Waterford to claim the program’s first volleyball district title since 2016.
“I liked that we never gave up,” Jeeps coach Darcee Claxon said following the win. “It wasn’t the best volleyball this team has played, I can still see nerves out there with out youth. But the fact they were able to battle back despite our youth was great to see. They’re resilient, they’re competitive, and they wanted that win. I’m very proud of the fact that we were able to compete and win.”
After starting Saturday’s district final with a 25-19 set one win, Claxon’s group ultimately fell to a talented Waterford team in the second set 25-22.
Rather than question why the reasons for the dropped set in the moment, Claxon ushered her team to focus on what’s next. The next serve, the next kill, the next point.
“We’re always playing for the next point,” Claxon said. “Sometimes you can worry about how many points you need to come back or to win the set, but we try to just worry about getting that next point. I think our aggressiveness as the match kept going put us on the attack after Waterford kept coming at us. But when Faith (Maloney) is back there serving cannons, you’re just trying to keep the ball in play. I thought we were very resilient tonight.”
After falling in set two by a three-point margin, the Jeeps rallied to take sets three and four over Waterford by two and ten points respectively.
Faith Maloney led the Jeeps offensively in Saturday’s district final with a game-high 24 kills and six aces from the service line. Bri Claxon finished with nine kills, a team high 24 assists, eleven digs, and one solo block.
Gwen Messer contributed seven kills, 18 digs, and three block assists. Kendall Bender added four service aces, 10 digs, and 15 assists in the Jeeps district title win.
Mack Keller, the Jeeps lone senior, added three kills and three service aces in the win. Grace Claxon added 17 digs while Rylee McGraw and Natalie Adkins added two and one kill(s) respectively. Liz Shupert added two digs for the Jeeps in the win.
“It’s just great for our team,” Claxon said of her team’s district championship. “Mack (Keller) dressed on that 2016 team, but she didn’t really get to play. Our last two years we’ve lost in the sectionals. Since I’ve been here we had never lost in sectionals, and then we did back to back years. I certainly felt that pressure because if we don’t win, I feel like it’s my fault because I didn’t prepare them well enough. Our seniors love Mack, and I know they wanted to win for her. Being able to do this is huge for us this year, and also for us going forward. I return so many of these kids for the next several years, and this type of experience is exactly what they need to be successful.”
South Webster advances to next week’s Division IV regional tournament at Bloom Carroll High School in Carroll, Ohio where they will take on Sarahsville Shenandoah.
Shenandoah, the three seed in the East District, upset top seeded Shadyside with a three set sweep (25-15, 25-16, 25-21) in their district final matchup, Saturday.
“We’ve just got to continue to play,” Claxon said of her team moving onto regional play. “I think we’ve got to see past everything and just play our game and attack. Keep the ball off the floor and you win the game. Defensively to begin the game we struggled, but once we settled in and started being scrappy, we started to keep the ball in play. Hopefully we see our competition and prepare that way, but we just want to play volleyball.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved