JACKSON, Ohio — The Lady Tornadoes experienced a first in their young lifetimes.
Coach Kim Hupp watched a memorable flashback come full circle.
The Southern volleyball team is headed to its first district championship game in 18 years following a decisive 25-19, 25-13, 25-12 victory over third-seeded New Boston Glenwood in a Division IV district semifinal match at Jackson High School in the Apple City.
The second-seeded Lady Tornadoes (21-2) trailed only three times in the entire match, and all three of those deficits were by a single point. The Purple and Gold also led by at least eight points in each of the straight-game decisions.
Southern clinched its first district final appearance since the 1998 campaign,which also served as Hupp’s senior season at SHS.
Being part of the last group to accomplish such a feat is one thing in regards to school pride. Hupp, however, seemed proudest of the fact that her close-knit squad was able to make a memory of their own.
And, as the first-year SHS coach noted, this group has an opportunity to add something else to a list of accomplishments that include a 20-win season, a share of the TVC Hocking title, a sectional crown and a spot in the district final.
“This group of girls, especially these 11 seniors, have worked very hard for this every day, and the momentum just seems to keep growing from what we’ve done during the regular season,” Hupp said. “I think this a great experience for the program, mainly because these are a great group of girls who deserve this moment.
“The girls are very excited for the opportunity to play for the school’s first district title, and so is the coaching staff. We also have to keep doing the things that got us here.”
The only contested game of the night came in the opener as both teams battled through four ties and five lead changes. The Lady Tornadoes stormed out to early leads of 4-1 and 11-3, but the Lady Tigers (17-7) countered with an 11-3 run to knot things up at 14-all.
Glenwood took its only leads of Game 1 at 16-15 and 17-16, but Southern responded with a 9-2 surge to secure a six-point win and a 1-0 match advantage.
The Purple and Gold never trailed in Game 2 after building an early 8-4 edge, but GHS answered with three consecutive points to close back to within a point at 8-7.
SHS responded with a 10-3 run that led to an 18-10 cushion, then closed things with a 7-3 surge to secure a 12-point win and a 2-0 match lead.
Glenwood led 1-0 in the finale, but the Lady Tornadoes countered with 10 of the next 11 points for a comfortable 10-2 edge. The Lady Tigers were never closer than seven (12-5) the rest of the way as Southern went on to a 13-point win to clinch the straight-game outcome.
Amanda Cole led the SHS service attack with 16 points and Sierra Cleland was next with 10 points. Marissa Johnson and Marlee Maynard each contributed six points, followed by Kamryn Smith with five points and Talon Drummer with two points.
Smith and Cleland both had two service aces, while Maynard added a team-high 16 assists.
Faith Teaford led the net attack with 10 kills and three blocks, followed by Smith and Cole with six kills apiece. Cleland also chipped in four kills and three blocks for the victors.
Madison Salisbury and Kaylee Stone led GHS with four service points each, followed by Morgan Rawlins and Tayler Hickman with two points apiece. Kailey Mollett, Ali Hamilton and Lexus Oiler also had a point each for the Lady Tigers.
Second-seeded Southern — the last TVC Hocking team remaining in the Ohio postseason — will face top-seeded Portsmouth Notre Dame in the D-4 championship game on Saturday at Jackson High School.
The Lady Tornadoes and Lady Titans will play the second of two district final matches on Saturday, with Sciotoville East and South Webster starting things at 1 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.