JACKSON, Ohio — Returning to the round of 32.
The second-seeded Southern volleyball team rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win the next three games over third-seeded Peebles in Thursday’s Division IV district semifinal at Jackson High School, putting the Lady Tornadoes back in the district final after a two-year hiatus.
Southern (17-6) — which went 17 years between its previous trips to the district final — began the night by scoring eight of the first 10 points. The Lady Tornadoes were in front 13-8 when Peebles (16-8) rattled off 11 straight points for its first lead of the night. SHS fought back to within three points, but the Lady Indians claimed six of the next seven to win the opener by a 25-17 tally.
Peebles scored the first seven points of the second game and soon stretched its lead to 10-1. Southern fought back to take lead at 15-14, but gave up the next two markers. The Lady Tornadoes regained the edge at 18-17 and led for the remainder of the set, winning by a 25-21 clip to even the match at a game apiece.
Southern took its first lead of Game 3 at 3-2, but gave the edge back to PHS at 10-9. The teams swapped the lead five more times in the next 17 points, with SHS taking the advantage for good at 19-18. The Purple and Gold won the third by a 25-18 tally, scoring eight in a row to end the game.
The Lady Tornadoes charged out to a pair of early eight-point leads — at 10-2 and 13-5 — in the fourth game, but Peebles rallied back to take the lead at 20-19. PHS went up 22-20, but surrendered the next four points and faced a match-point situation. The Lady Indians fought off match-point once, but a kill from junior Jordan Hardwick gave Southern the 25-23 win in the fourth.
Following the 3-1 win, fourth-year SHS head coach Kim Hupp talked about the team’s adjustments after dropping the opener.
“The main focus was to get better passes from our defense in order for us to be more aggressive with our swings,” Hupp said. “I think the girls made that adjustment after Set 1.”
The Lady Tornado service was led by sophomore Cassidy Roderus with 22 points, including five aces. Baylee Wolfe was next with 10 points and three aces, followed by Sydney Adams with nine points and three aces. Phoenix Cleland had seven points and two aces in the triumph, Kayla Evans added four points and one ace, while Hardwick and Kassie Barton came up with a point apiece.
Hardwick had 13 kills and two blocks to lead the Purple and Gold at the net. Wolfe earned eight kills and two blocks for SHS, while Cleland and Roderus had three kills apiece, with four blocks by Cleland. Evans finished with a pair of kills in the win, while Adams came up with one kill and a team-best 22 assists.
Jacey Justice paced the Lady Indians with 23 service points. Tatum Arey was next with a dozen points, followed by Harlee Wilkinson and Hope Brown with five each. Taylor Cluxton and Madison Beekman both marked two points, while Christian Reed came up with one.
Coach Hupp also talked about the added motivation for her six seniors — Cleland, Wolfe, Adams, Barton, Mickenzie Ferrell and Valerie Ritchhart — to get back to the round of 32 after making it three years ago.
“This is a great accomplishment for these six seniors and their teammates,” Hupp said. “They were freshmen the last time we were in the district finals. They have worked hard to get where we are tonight.”
SHS has won five straight headed into Saturday’s district final against top-seeded Notre Dame.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.