LONDONDERRY, Ohio — An unfortunate feeling of déjà vu.
For the second year in a row, the Gallia Academy volleyball team had its season ended at the hands of Sheridan, with the top-seeded Lady Generals taking a 3-1 victory over the second-seeded Blue Angels on Wednesday in the Division II district semifinal inside Southeastern High School’s Larry Jordan Gymnasium.
Sheridan (23-2) — ranked No. 8 in the final OHSVCA Division II Poll — led wire-to-wire en route to a 25-14 victory in Wednesday’s opener.
The Blue Angels (22-3) — finishing the year at No. 16 in the OHSVCA D-2 Poll — scored the first two points of the second for their first lead of the night. The Lady Generals, however, claimed the next four points and didn’t relinquish the lead on their way to the 25-16 win.
SHS took a 2-1 lead in the third game, but GAHS was back in front at 6-3. Sheridan tied the game twice before going up by an 11-8 tally, but Gallia Academy rallied back for the 13-12 edge. The Lady Generals won four of the next five points for a 16-14 lead, but the Blue and White answered with a 11-to-4 run for a 25-20 victory, forcing a fourth game.
After a quartet of early lead changes in the fourth, the Blue Angels opened a 16-13 edge. Sheridan, however, finished the night with a 12-to-2 run, sealing their spot in Saturday’s district final with a 25-18 win.
Following the 3-1 setback, sixth-year GAHS head coach Janice Rosier admitted the Blue Angels were nervous early on, but eventually settled in.
“We had a lot of nerves,” Rosier said. “We tend to come here and get really nervous at this game, I’m not 100 percent sure why, but we always get pretty nervous. They finally started playing harder and got Sheridan a little out of system. We’re much smaller than they are and we knew that going in, so once we got them to where they were out of system, we played much better.”
GAHS was led by MaKenna Caldwell with 11 service points, including an ace. Maddie Wright and Peri Martin earned five points apiece, with two aces by Wright, while Alex Barnes and Bailey Barnette claimed two points each, with an ace by Barnes. Maddy Petro rounded out the Blue Angel service with one marker.
Barnes led Gallia Academy at the net with 11 kills and two blocks. Wright was next with nine kills and two blocks, followed by Barnette with six kills and one block. Martin recorded four kills, two blocks and a team-best 31 assists for the Blue and White, Petro added four kills and five blocks, while Abby Hammons had one kill and one block.
Brooklyn Heller led the Lady Generals with 15 service points and two aces. Ally Perkins was next with nine points, followed by Grace Dowdell with eight, Faith Stinson with seven and Julia Finck with five. Rounding out the SHS service, Grace Conrad marked two points and Lexi Schooley had one.
Leading Sheridan at the net, Perkins claimed 11 kills, while Erin Schultz marked 10 kills and two blocks. Heller had seven kills in the win, while Conrad recorded four kills, one block and 35 assists.
Coach Rosier noted that replacing their three seniors — Barnes, Martin and Wright — won’t be easy, but is hopeful for the future of Blue Angel volleyball.
“The seniors leaving, you can’t replace them,” Rosier said. “They’ve been some of the best leaders we’ve had. The girls that we’ve got coming up, there’s a lot of talent there. We have a really young squad, they’re mostly going to be juniors, so there’s a lot to look forward to. I look for big things out of Maddy Petro, and that back row that we got ready this year.”
Sheridan will face Fairfield Union in the Division II district final at Southeastern on Saturday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.