CENTENARY, Ohio — The postseason is really where you can cement your legacy.
The top-seeded Gallia Academy volleyball team continued its historic season Wednesday night, topping eighth-seeded Meigs in straight games in the Division II Sectional Semifinal, in Gallia County. With the triumph, the Blue Angels — who hadn’t won a postseason match since 2010 — set a new program record for wins in a season with 21.
Gallia Academy (21-2) fell behind early in the opening game, but took a 8-7 lead and never trailed again. GAHS claimed the first by a 25-18 final tally, moving ahead 1-0 in the match.
The second game featured seven ties, the final of which came at 15-all. The Blue Angels scored 10 of the next 12 points, securing the 25-17 victory, to push their advantage to 2-0.
The Lady Marauders (6-18) led early in the third game, only allowing GAHS to pull even three times. The Blue Angels finally took the lead at 13-12 and they never trailed again, charging to a 25-16 win and a 3-0 sweep.
“I’m happy about the win, and that we get to keep going,” GAHS head coach Janice Rosier said. “We have to work on our block, we have to finish closing our block and setting it where it needs to be set. We also have to work on finishing with our hitters, they have to find the floor.”
GAHS junior libero Brooke Pasquale led the Blue and White with 10 service points, including four aces. Abby Wood finished with seven points, while Carly Shriver and Jenna Meadows both had six points, including two aces by Meadows. The Gallia Academy service attack was rounded out by Ashton Webb and Grace Martin with five points apiece.
Devyn Oliver and Kassidy Betzing both posted five points to lead the Maroon and Gold, while Jordan Roush and Alliyah Pullins both added three. Oliver marked a team-best three aces, while Pullins and Betzing each added two.
“I am so proud of my girls,” Meigs head coach Lori Carter said. “They did what I had asked them to do, and yeah, it was going to be a tough match whether we won or lost, but the girls fought. They played the best defense that I’ve seen them play all year. Our record unfortunately does not indicate our improvements this year or how good of a team we are.”
The Blue Angel net attack was paced by Webb with 10 kills, followed by Meadows and Martin with eight each. Ryleigh Caldwell hammered home six kills, Jordan Walker added three, while Shriver and Hanna Johnson both marked one kill in the win. The GAHS net defense was led by Martin with four blocks and Walker with two, while Shriver had a team-best 17 assists, followed by Martin with 13. Pasquale led Gallia Academy with 24 digs, while Meadows, Martin and Wood each added 21.
At the net the Lady Marauders were led by Betzing with eight kills and a block, followed by Pullins with eight kills. Devin Humphreys posted two kills, Oliver and Maddie Hendricks each added one kill, while Allie Hanstine posted a block. Oliver and Pullins each had five digs to lead the MHS defense, followed by Roush with four. Oliver posted a team-high 16 assists in the setback.
Gallia Academy — which finished 18th in the final Ohio Volleyball Coaches Association Division II Poll — also defeated Meigs on October 6, by a 3-1 count in Centenary.
The Blue Angels will move on to Saturday’s sectional final, when they host former Southeastern Ohio Athletic League foe Chillicothe. The fifth-seeded Lady Cavaliers defeated fourth-seeded Waverly in five games on Wednesday. Ross County teams have ended Gallia Academy’s season two of the last three years. Since leaving the SEOAL following the 2012 campaign CHS has only faced the Blue Angels once, September 6, 2014. GAHS won that tilt 2-0 as part of the Unioto Invitational.
The previous record for wins in a season at GAHS was 20, set by the 2007 team. Gallia Academy’s last tournament win came over Waverly by a 3-2 count in the 2010 sectional semifinal. The Blue Angels will try for their first sectional championship since 2004, this Saturday at 4 p.m.
“We’ve always felt like we’ve had kind of a curse, for lack of a better word, when it comes to the tournament,” Rosier said. “Getting through the first one felt really good, it’s a bit of a relief and I’m proud of them for doing that.”
This was just the third postseason meeting between the Lady Marauders and Blue Angels in the last 15 seasons. The Blue Angels won the 2005 sectional semifinal tilt, while Meigs won the 2003 sectional semifinal showdown.
The loss ends Meigs’ hopes for a third consecutive sectional title, but with no seniors on the team, the Lady Marauders are set for a successful 2016 campaign.
“We’re excited for next year,” Carter said. “It’s up to the girls, they have to put the hard work in and the time to do what needs to be done. I can only do so much, the girls have to take it the rest of the way.”
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.