CENTENARY, Ohio — Just adding to an already historic season.
For the first time since 2004 the Gallia Academy volleyball is headed to districts, as the top-seeded Blue Angels claimed a 3-2 victory over visiting five-seed Chillicothe in the Division II Sectional Final, on Saturday in Gallia County.
Gallia Academy (22-2) — which is ranked 18th in the final OHSVCA Division II Poll, and is champion of both the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League and Ohio Valley Conference — jumped out to a three-point lead in the opening game, before Chillicothe (16-8) tied the game at nine. After ties at 10 and 11, the Blue Angels expanded their advantage to seven points, at 20-13. The Lady Cavaliers never got closer than four points and GAHS took the first game by a 25-19 final.
The Blue Angels fell behind early in the second game, but eight consecutive service points by junior Abby Wood gave the hosts an 11-3 advantage. Gallia Academy outscored CHS 14-to-9 over the remainder of the second and took the game by a 25-12 count, moving ahead 2-0 in the match.
After five lead changes and eight ties early in the third game, GAHS opened up a game-high, four-point advantage at 16-12. Chillicothe answered by tying the game at 16 and eventually taking the lead at 18-17. The CHS advantage was short-lived however, as Gallia Academy regained the edge at 20-19. The hosts were three points away from a match victory, when the Lady Cavaliers reeled off four straight points to claim the third by a 25-22 count, forcing a fourth game.
The Blue Angels, who led by as many as six points in the fourth game, were just two points away from victory at 23-21. However, Chillicothe — which hadn’t led since 2-1 — scored the final four points of the game and took the fourth by a 25-23 final.
Gallia Academy, which lost its only other five-game match this season, allowed only four service points in the fifth game, as the Blue Angels rolled to a 15-10 victory on the strength of eight kills and two aces.
“I think that’s the best volleyball we’ve played all season,” said GAHS coach Janice Rosier. “I’ve known they’ve had it in them and I’ve just been waiting for it to come out. It was good time for them to do that. They played hard tonight, I think they got a little tired, but they played hard.”
The Blue Angel service attack was led by freshman Ashton Webb with 12 points including two aces, followed by Abby Wood with 11 points and two aces. Grace Martin marked 10 points and one ace, Jenna Meadows added seven points and two aces, while Brooke Pasquale and Carly Shriver both had six points, including two aces by Pasquale and one by Shriver. Ryleigh Caldwell rounded out the GAHS scoring with three points and one ace in the win.
At the net, GAHS was led by Meadows with 12 kills and three blocks, followed by Webb with 11 kills and two blocks. Martin posted eight kills and six blocks, Caldwell added six kills, Jordan Walker chipped in with three kills and five blocks, while Pasquale contributed one kill to the home cause. Shriver finished with a team-best 19 assists, followed by Martin with 18. Meadows led the Gallia Academy defense with 34 digs, followed by Pasquale with 32 and Wood with 18.
“Our passing tonight was on spot,” Rosier said. “The hitters get all the glory and I understand that, but our passers were on for us tonight. They got a lot of balls up to us to hit.”
Gabby Lapurga led Chillicothe with 11 points, followed by Malia Berry with 10 and Lauren Price with eight. Olivia Eblin had four points, Ashley Coats added three, while senior Courtney Barnes rounded out the Lady Cavalier service attack with one point.
The Blue Angels, who haven’t won a match at the district level since 2001, will face second-seeded Circleville in the Wednesday’s district semifinal at Southeastern High School, in Ross County.
“I think we just need to keep solidifying what we’ve got,” said Rosier. “We’re not making any changes, they’re a great group of girls and they just need to work on being solid and confident.”
GAHS has won four straight matches and has already set a new school record for wins in a season.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.