TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — It started when most of this year’s seniors were being born.
The Eastern volleyball team captured its 18th consecutive district berth Thursday night following a 25-12, 25-8, 25-20 victory over visiting South Gallia in a Division IV sectional final at the Eagle’s Nest in Meigs County.
The third-seeded Lady Eagles (20-3) — who began their current sectional title streak in 1996 — never trailed in the first two games en route to double-digits wins, but the Lady Rebels (10-13) didn’t go quietly in the decisive third contest.
Sixth-seeded South Gallia battled through nine ties and 10 lead changes in Game 3, and last led down the stretch at 19-18. After both teams were deadlocked at 20, EHS reeled off five consecutive points — allowing the hosts to advance to the district tournament.
Eastern will face seventh-seeded Paint Valley on Thursday, Oct. 24, in the second of two district semifinal matches to be held at Jackson High School. top-seeded Pike Eastern will face Portsmouth Clay in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.
The Lady Eagles stormed out to an early 15-8 lead and extended that edge out to 19-12 before scoring the final six points of Game 1 for a 13-point decision. EHS followed with leads of 4-0 and 17-5 before closing Game 2 on an 8-3 charge to secure its biggest lead of the night of 17 points.
Both teams led by as many as three points before the final tie at 20-all in Game 3, but the host scored the final five points to secure the 3-0 match decision. The Lady Eagles also defeated SGHS in straight games both times during the regular season.
Maddie Rigsby led the service attack with 13 points, followed by Jordan Parker with 12 points and Lindsay Wolfe with 11 points. Katie Keller was next with six service points, while Erin Swatzel and Kelsey Johnson respectively chipped in four and three points.
Parker had a team-high six aces, all of which came in Game 1. Rigsby added three service aces, while Keller, Johnson and Wolfe also had an ace apiece.
Rigsby led the net attack with eight kills, followed by Parker with seven kills and Swatzel with six kills. Johnson and Keller also added three kills and two kills, respectively, for the victors. Parker led the hosts with three blocks, while Swatzel chipped in two blocks. Rigsby and Johnson also added a block each.
Wolfe led the passing attack with 25 assists, while Parker paced the defense with 22 digs. Paige Cline contributed 19 digs to the winning cause, while Rigsby added 18 digs for EHS.
Bailie Corbin paced the SGHS service attack with six points, followed by Sara Bailey with five points and a team-high two aces. Alicia Hornsby was next with four points and an ace, while Shelby Sanders and Courtney Haner respectively chipped in two points and one point. Katie Bostic also had one point and one ace as well for the Lady Rebels.
Brynn Adams led the net attack with five kills and five blocks, while Haner chipped in four kills and three blocks. Rachel Johnson contributed two kills, while the trio of Bailey, Bostic and Mariah Hineman each added a kill apiece.
South Gallia’s last sectional title in volleyball came in 2011. It was the final volleyball match for seniors Rachel Johnson, Brynn Adams, Alicia Hornsby and Bailie Corbin in the Red and Gold.
The Lady Eagles have advanced to regionals eight times in their 17 previous trips to the district tournament, including six of the last eight postseasons. Eastern also qualified for the D-4 state tournament in 2011.