SOUTH WEBSTER — It was purely an accident, but it was symbolic of the match.
South Webster standout Faith Maloney, the Division IV District 14 Volleyball Coaches Association Player of the Year, spiked one of her match-high 13 kills square off the countenance of Western’s Alyssa Marhoover.
While Marhoover wasn’t injured and Maloney immediately felt bad and quickly apologized, it highlighted ALL the advantages that the top-seeded and host Jeeps enjoyed over the Indians on Thursday.
Simply put, Maloney’s firepower paced South Webster to a decisive —and quick in an hour — 25-6, 25-12 and 25-11 three-set sweep in a Division IV district semifinal tilt.
The Jeeps — with their front hitters’ height either at or near six-feet tall — overwhelmed the Indians from the opening serve, as Western was tied only three times and led just once.
All three ties and the Indians’ lone lead at 6-5 occurred in the second game, but otherwise, it was all Jeeps as expected —as South Webster raised its stellar record to 2o-1.
More importantly, the Jeeps advanced to Saturday’s district championship match —against fourth-seeded Notre Dame at 3 p.m. inside Southeastern High School’s Larry Jordan Gymnasium.
Should South Webster top the Titans, it would be its fifth all-time district title —all since 2002, its second consecutive, and third in the past five years.
Notre Dame defeated 12th-seeded Paint Valley in four sets (see related report) in another Division IV district semifinal on Thursday.
While that contest, ahead of time, was thought to be a better battle —the Jeeps were way too much for the Indians.
“Western was certainly trying, but offensively, we just had too many weapons for them to handle,” said SWHS coach Darcee Claxon. “And Faith (Maloney) is lethal. That’s just the bottom line. She just puts balls away.”
Most of Maloney’s kills came at the Indians hard and fast, and there was nothing Western could do.
She also served up an ace, as five other Jeeps —Gwen Messer (seven), Bri Claxon (seven), Bella Claxon (four), Rylee McGraw (three) and Natalie Adkins (three) —amounted at least three kills.
“You throw in Bri and Bella and Gwen and Rylee and Natalie, and there’s not a lot you can do to stop them,” said Coach Claxon.
Bella Claxon set for 17 assists and senior Kendall Bender another 14, as Bri Claxon served up four aces and Messer another two.
Bender and Bella Claxon collected one ace apiece, as libero Gracie Claxon went a perfect 12-of-12 on serve-receive — in addition to her match-high 13 digs.
Bri Claxon followed with a dozen digs — as Bella Claxon added 11, while Maloney with six, Messer with five and senior Liz Shupert with four also contributed defensively.
Western, which ended at 10-13, scored six points in the first game as the result of five attack errors and a hitting mistake.
The Jeeps scored the opening 10 points, and cruised to the 25-6 runaway.
South Webster soon seized control of the second set, scoring four straight points as its largest lead was the 25-12 final score.
Bri Claxon ended it with three aces in a row.
In the third game, the Jeeps led 3-0, before Western got to within 3-2 and 4-3 —and even at 9-8 with four straight South Webster attack errors.
From there, though, the Jeeps blitzed the Indians —and scored 16 of the set’s final 19 points.
Western’s statistics were simple: two Marhoover kills, two Sakayla Beckett blocks, and one kill apiece by Chloe Beekman and Mea Henderson.
South Webster now turns its attention to Notre Dame, whom the Jeeps swept in the Titans’ season opener.
Coach Claxon, though, anticipates a much-more hotly-contested match this time around.
“Our match with Notre Dame was their first game of the season. I have no doubts they are a better team than they were when they walked in the gym that first day. Just because you work out the kinks and you learn to play together as a team. But in the same breath, we have done a lot of those same things,” she said. “The girls and I have talked a lot about at this point, it’s us against ourselves. We know what we have to do. We have to execute, be confident, be disciplined and we have to trust that process. I have nothing but respect for Notre Dame, and I have no doubt they will bring a great match for us.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved