WAVERLY, Ohio — The journey is sometimes greater than reaching the final destination.
The Meigs volleyball team had its magical postseason run come to an end Wednesday night following a 25-14, 25-16, 25-21 setback to Westfall in a Division III district semifinal match at Waverly High School in Pike County.
Early on, the Lady Marauders (8-14) looked timid in their first district postseason appearance in over a decade, as the Lady Mustangs led by as many as 16 and nine points in the first two games with a pair of wire-to-wire victories.
Meigs, however, picked up its first lead of the night to start Game 3, then battled through nine ties and nine more lead changes before ultimately bowing out by a slim four-point margin. MHS claimed the biggest lead of Game 3 for either team at 21-16, but Westfall scored the final nine points to wrap up the straight-game decision.
The Lady Mustangs (20-3) advance to the district final on Saturday, when they will face Minford in the second of three matches at Waverly High School.
Though disappointed with the final outcome, first-year MHS coach Lori Carter was still upbeat afterwards — given what this group managed to accomplish in getting to Waverly.
“We’ve won five more games than last year and made it to districts. I’m very pleased with the girls and the efforts that they’ve given this year,” Carter said. “From camp this past summer to us just walking off that floor, these kids have improved. I’m really pleased with the strides they have continuously made since the first day.”
Early on, it appeared that Westfall would just cruise past the Lady Marauders — as Meigs used both Game 1 timeouts at 6-1 and 12-1 to try and stop the bleeding. WHS eventually led 14-1 and took its biggest lead of the game at 19-3, but Brook Andrus came up with seven straight service points to close the deficit down to 19-11.
Westfall reeled off six of the final nine points to secure an 11-point win and an early 1-0 match lead.
That first game was an eye-opener of sorts for Meigs, but it also revealed the true character of the team the rest of the night — as referenced by Carter afterwards.
“We were nervous. We’re not use to being this far along in the tournament and it was tough for us to handle early on,” Carter said. “We settled down and started playing better as the night progressed, but it just took us too long to get our nerves under control.”
Westfall never trailed in Game 2, but MHS did rally back from an early 5-1 deficit to force the only tie of the game at five-all. The Lady Marauders stayed within five points most of the rest of the way, until WHS broke away from a 17-14 edge with eight of the next 10 points — giving the Lady Mustangs a nine-point win and a 2-0 match lead.
Both teams led five times apiece in Game 3, which included three each in just getting out to a 6-5 Meigs advantage. The game was tied again at 10, 11 and 15, but MHS went on a 6-1 surge to claim its biggest cushion of the night at 21-16.
Westfall took over serve at 21-17, then reeled off the final eight points to complete the three-game sweep with a four-point decision.
Andrus led the MHS service attack with 12 points and seven aces, followed by Devyn Oliver with six points and three aces. Aly Dettwiller was next with four points and two aces, while Ariel Ellis chipped in three points.
Olivia Cremeans and Hannah Cremeans also added a point apiece, with Hannah also contributing one ace for the guests.
Andrus led the net attack with 16 kills, followed by Dettwiller with seven kills. Both Cremeans and Ellis also chipped in one kill apiece in the setback.
Kelsey Hudson led the passing game with seven assists, with Ellis also providing three assists.
It was the final volleyball match for Aly Dettwiller and Olivia Cremeans in the Maroon and Gold.
“We lose two wonderful leaders in Aly and Olivia and they will be sorely missed, but we do have a lot of this group coming back,” Carter said. “We’ll hope to build on this experience and keep trying to build up the program so we can be better next year.”