WHEELERSBURG — The winningest senior class in Wheelersburg volleyball history played its final home game in a Division III district semifinal win over Eastern Meigs on Wednesday.
The emotion and memories in a home finale — typically during a sectional final or Senior Night — were showcased in a strong performance in their last time taking that very court.
With a three-set sweep over the visiting Lady Eagles (25-15, 25-16, 25-18), Wheelersburg clinched its spot in Friday’s Division III district final for the fifth consecutive year.
A win at the next stage would mean a rather impressive 4-for-4 mark in district finals since their 2017 district championship — also the first for Coach Allen Perry and each of his five seniors.
This year’s group of Lady Pirates continues to set benchmarks with their play, and even with just their presence.
In fact, it’s believed that current senior Kaylee Darnell has now played in more games as a Lady Pirate than any other player in program history — after starting all but one game since the start of her freshman season.
Now that his group will be aiming for a return to the regional stage for the fourth straight year, Perry credited his players with buying in from the very beginning.
“This group of seniors, when I first came here, they were little, tiny freshmen with baby faces,” Perry said. “You just knew right away that we had something — a core group we could build something around. I didn’t think it would be that fast. We jumped out and won districts their first year and kind of surprised some people. They’ve bought in and worked their tails off.”
In the win over Eastern, it was the very same senior class who were the catalysts in earning the three-set sweep.
Emily Boggs led from the service line for a significant portion of the second set — as the Lady Pirates scored, at one point, 12 straight points.
Boggs finished with seven kills, a team-high 15 service points and 15 digs.
Darnell tied Boggs for a team-high 15 digs, while also adding eight kills.
Lauren Jolly totaled 35 assists and 12 digs of her own, while Kylee Barney contributed a team-high 12 kills.
Jaiden Missler was also strong in the Lady Pirates’ serving efforts — totaling 11 points from the service line, as well as one ace.
Despite never allowing Eastern within seven points by sets’ end, the Lady Eagles did make comeback attempts within each set.
As the good teams so often manage, Wheelersburg fought through each set enough to hold off its opponent.
“I’m happy that they fought through against a really scrappy team,” Perry said. “They were scrappy, they brought the ball back to us a lot, and we were able to persevere.”
In any other season, Wheelersburg’s win over Eastern at the district semis stage would have taken place at the location of Friday’s district final — inside the Waverly High School gymnasium.
The site of each of their previous consecutive district championships, Perry says his team is ready to get back to the place where so many of the program’s great wins have taken place — against a worthy opponent.
“We are so excited to get there. See what we’ve got and see how it matches up against whoever we’re playing against,” Perry said. “Hopefully we can execute.”
The No. 2-seed Lady Pirates will face No. 5-seed Nelsonville-York on Friday at 8:30 p.m. for a Division III district championship.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved