JACKSON, Ohio — All good things must come to an end.
The Eastern volleyball team battled through 24 ties and 28 lead changes over the course of four games, but top-seeded Pike Eastern proved to be a bit too much Saturday night following a 25-19, 25-23, 24-26, 25-20 decision in a Division IV district championship match at Jackson High School.
The third-seeded Lady Eagles (21-4) failed to win a district title for the first time in three years, as Pike Eastern (24-1) also duplicated that feat back in 2010 — when this year’s senior class were freshmen in the program. The four-game victory also allowed Pike Eastern to secure its 16th district title and sixth straight trip to the regional tournament.
It was the final volleyball game for EHS seniors Jordan Parker, Maddie Rigsby, Erin Swatzel, Katie Keller, Paige Cline and Lindsay Wolfe — a group that has been a large part of a 92-10 overall record, two TVC Hocking championships and a state tournament berth during their four years with the program.
Afterwards, EHS coach Katie Williams spoke about how hard it will be to replace these half-dozen girls next year.
“These seniors are probably one of the most successful group of girls to ever come through Eastern High School, which is saying something for a program that has been in 12 straight district finals in volleyball,” Williams said. “I know the school and the community is proud of them, and I’m proud of them for what they have achieved.
“They have nothing to be disappointed about, especially when you reflect on what they have accomplished over their four years with the program. They are true leaders and they have set the bar very high for the future classes, and that’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.”
Eastern led 1-0 in Game 1, but Pike Eastern rallied with three consecutive points for a 3-1 edge. The Green and White answered with consecutive points to knot things up at three, but Pike Eastern reeled off 11 of the next 15 points to secure its biggest lead of the opening game at 14-7.
The Lady Eagles closed the deficit down to within a point on three separate occasions — the last of which came at 19-18 — but Pike Eastern won six of the last seven points to secure a six-point victory and an early 1-0 match lead.
There were seven ties and eight lead changes in Game 2, all of which occurred as Pike Eastern established a slim 11-10 advantage. The Lady Eagles were never closer, as Pike Eastern took its biggest lead at 18-13 before escaping with a 25-23 win and a 2-0 match cushion.
Game 3 was the fiercest of the four contest, as both teams battled through 14 ties and 15 lead changes. Pike Eastern never led by more than one point in the third game, while the Lady Eagles claimed their biggest lead of the entire match at 20-16.
Pike Eastern rallied back to knot the game up at 22, 23 and again at 24-all, but the Green and White came up with consecutive points to close the match deficit down to 2-1.
Eastern stormed out to a 3-0 edge in Game 4, but Pike Eastern countered with five consecutive points and eight of the next nine scores to establish an 8-4 cushion. Pike Eastern followed with a small 11-9 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 19-13.
The Lady Eagles rallied back to within two points at 20-18, but Pike Eastern scored five of the final seven points to wrap up the five-point decision and a 3-1 match triumph.
Pike Eastern will face Shekinah Christian in the second of two regional semifinal matches at Lancaster High School on Thursday, Oct. 31. Newark Catholic and Waterford will face off in the first regional semifinal match at 6 p.m.
Parker led the EHS service attack with eight points, followed by Cline and Wolfe with seven points apiece. Swatzel and Keller were next with six points apiece, while Rigsby rounded things out with five service points.
Parker and Cline each had two service aces, while Swatzel contributed one ace to the setback.
Parker led the net attack with 19 kills, followed by Swatzel with 13 kills and Rigsby with five kills. Keller added three kills, while Kelsey Johnson and Wolfe respectively chipped in two kills and one kill.
Swatzel had a team-high five blocks, while Parker and Rigsby added four and three blocks. Wolfe had two blocks for the Lady Eagles, with Johnson and Keller each chipping in one block. Wolfe also had a team-best 39 assists.
Rigsby led the defense with 44 digs, followed by Cline with 34 digs and Parker with 32 digs.
Jenny Keppler and Haley Stanley paced Pike Eastern with nine service points apiece, followed by Maddie Knapp and Carson Roney with eight points each. Casey Howard and Abby Overly also chipped in seven and six points, respectively, to the winning cause.