CARROLL – Anyone who watched the first set between South Webster and Sarahsville Shenandoah in their Division IV regional semifinal at Bloom Carroll High School would have likely been surprised had you told them the match would end in five sets.
South Webster, as green to the regional tournament stage as a team could be, fell to Shenandoah 25-9 in set one after allowing the Zeps to go on a 15-0 run in the early stages of the match.
Rather impressively, however, the Lady Jeeps regrouped and refocused more so than many teams would be able to do.
To start set two, the Lady Jeeps looked like a completely different team. Whether it was early match nerves or inexperience at that level of play, it no longer mattered.
South Webster took sets two and three by scores of 25-19 and 25-21 while clawing and scratching for every point to take a 2-1 match lead entering the fourth set.
However, South Webster would be unable to pull out either set four or the first-to-15 fifth set, falling in their Division IV regional semifinal match to Shennandoah 3-2 (25-9, 19-25, 21-25, 25-12, 15-9) and ending their season at 20-6.
“To start the game, we were playing timid, playing scared, and that’s something I as a coach can’t fix,” South Webster coach Darcee Claxon said following the loss. “You as an athlete have to dig down and fight through and battle. I knew that coming in that that could be a factor, but the fact that they didn’t roll over and die, I can’t say enough of how proud I am of their grit and their determination and their fight.”
In the loss, sophomore Faith Maloney led the Jeeps offensively with a team-high 17 kills followed by Bri Claxon’s nine kills, Rylee McGraw’s four kills, Gwen Messer’s five kills, Mack Keller’s three kills, and Natalie Adkins’ one kill.
Claxon also led the Jeeps with a team-high 15 assists followed by Kendall Bender’s 10 assists. Libero Graci Claxon finished with a team-high 20 digs to help sure up the Jeeps’ defensive back line. During the Jeeps’ set two and three wins, Claxon’s defensive efforts were crucial to their success.
Following the loss, South Webster says farewell to their lone senior on this year’s team: Mack Keller.
“She’s a unique kid in that she tells our younger players to do something, and they do it,” Claxon said of Keller. “If you’ve ever coached female sports, that’s not something that’s always the case. She gets the best out of her teammates; they love her, and they respect her so much. They wanted to win for her.”
While the Jeeps are forced to say goodbye to Keller, the amount of talent they bring back on the rest of their roster with players such as Maloney, Bri and Graci Claxon, Messer, McGraw, Bender, and others returning should have them right back in contention for a district title a year from now.
“The fact that we’ve been here and now we have this experience, it’s huge,” Claxon said. “The experience of playing in big gyms like this, with the noise and the amount of people here, at this stage, that’s experience that’s worth gold for a young team like us.”
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