MERCERVILLE, Ohio — Winning ugly is still better than a pretty loss.
The South Gallia volleyball team never led by more than two points during the entire match, but the Lady Rebels still found a way to advance Monday night during a 17-25, 26-24, 26-24, 25-23 victory over visiting Symmes Valley in a Division IV sectional semifinal contest in Gallia County.
The eighth-seeded Lady Rebels (13-10) never led in Game 1 and didn’t take their first lead of the night until breaking a 24-all tie in Game 2, which ultimately allowed SGHS to knot the match up at a game apiece.
The hosts also trailed by as many as eight points in Game 3 and nine points in Game 4, but both times the Red and Gold rallied back to snatch a pair of two-points wins while claiming a 3-1 match victory.
The Lady Rebels — who have now won six straight matches overall — advance to Thursday’s sectional final in Glouster, where they will face top-seeded Trimble at 6 p.m. for a spot in the district tournament. The Lady Rebels haven’t appeared in a districts since 2011.
It wasn’t perfect, but the slogan for the postseason is simply to survive and advance. Second-year SGHS coach Tracey Burnette noted that the Lady Rebels will need a much better effort in their next contest, but she was also proud of how her troops never quit and kept battling through the adversity.
“We came out really flat and really slow, and there were signs of that in all four games that we played tonight. We just weren’t very focused on playing volleyball at certain points tonight,” Burnette said. “However, we had some girls that just kept battling and stayed dedicated to the cause — and that really seemed to benefit the whole team as each game progressed.
“I’m really proud of the girls for battling through the tough times and finding a way to win this one, but we are going to have to play with more purpose and a lot more focus if we plan on advancing again. We’ve lost twice to Trimble already this year, so we know what we have to do if we want to get out of sectionals.”
The ninth-seeded Lady Vikings held 1-0 leads in all four of the games played, which included early advantages of 3-0 and 13-5 in the opener. SVHS led by as many as nine points (22-13) en route to the eight-point win and a 1-0 match edge.
Symmes Valley stormed out to leads of 2-0 and 6-1 in the second game, but the hosts rallied with an 11-6 run to tie things up at 12. The Lady Vikings responded by re-establishing leads of four at 21-17 and 22-18, and had a game-point opportunity up 24-22 with serve, but South Gallia scored the final four points en route to a two-point decision.
Game 3 started with a pair of lead changes en route to a 2-all tie, but Symmes Valley reeled off eight of the next nine points for a comfortable 10-3 cushion. The guests also led by as many as eight points (18-10) before SGHS once again made its late push.
Trailing 21-14, the Lady Rebels scored 10 of the next dozen points to secure a 24-23 edge. SVHS followed by tying the score at 24, but South Gallia scored the final two points and suddenly owned a 2-1 match advantage.
The Lady Vikings established leads of 2-0, 8-3 and 11-4 early on in Game 4, then held their biggest cushions of nine points at 15-6 and 16-7. And then came the meltdown.
South Gallia reeled off seven of the next eight points to close to within 17-14, then the hosts made an 8-4 run to knot the game up at 22-all. SVHS took its final lead at 23-22, but the Red Gold scored the final three points to wrap up the 3-1 match triumph.
Taylor Burnette led the SGHS service attack with 11 points, followed by Jayla Wolford with 10 points and Courtney Haner with eight points. Mariah Hineman and Erin Evans each contributed six points, while Kirstin Burnette and Caitlyn VanScoy respectively added four and three points apiece.
Hineman and Haner led the hosts with seven kills each, followed by VanScoy with four kills and Wolford with two kills. Olivia Hornsby also had one kill for the victors, while Wolford and Haner each added three blocks apiece.
Evans dished out a team-high seven assists. Kirstin Burnette had six digs, followed by VanScoy and Taylor Burnette with three digs each.
Sierra Ross paced the Lady Vikings with 13 service points, followed by Kaitlyn Crabtree with 11 points and Jensen Shepherd with eight points. Payton Walsh and Kinley Patterson also had seven and six points, respectively, in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.