PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — A 3-2 win for the big 2-3.
It took five games, but the Eastern volleyball team ultimately notched the program’s 23rd sectional title on Thursday night following a thrilling 25-19, 14-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-8 victory over 12th-seeded Portsmouth in the Division III Waverly 1 Southeast sectional championship match in Scioto County.
The 13th-seeded Lady Eagles (14-9) and host Lady Trojans (14-7) battled through 20 ties and 15 lead changes over the course of five sets, but the guests built a 5-0 lead in the finale and led by as many as eight points (13-5) before cruising to a 7-point win and a second straight date in the district tournament.
Eastern advances to the D-3 district semifinals and travels to top-seeded Adena for a 6 p.m. match in Frankfort. The Lady Warriors (21-2) defeated Piketon by a 25-10, 25-14, 25-6 count on Thursday night in another D-3 Waverly 1 sectional final contest.
The first two games were equally lop-sided, with Eastern leading by as many as eight points in Game 1 before fending off two ties and three lead changes for a 6-point win and a 1-0 match advantage.
PHS countered in Game 2 by never trailing and leading by 11 points on five different occasions, including the final margin of victory that knotted the match up at a set apiece.
The real struggle came in Game 3 as both teams went through 11 ties and six lead changes, which inlcuded EHS surviving a game-point down 24-23.
After breaking serve and tying things at 24-all, the Lady Eagles reeled off consecutive points to securea 2-1 match edge following the minimal 2-point decision.
Eastern built an 11-9 lead in Game 4, but the Lady Trojans ultimately reeled off five straight points for a 14-11 edge and never trailed the rest of the set. The guests closed back to within 20-17, but PHS answered with five of the final nine points to claim a 4-point win while forcing a pivotal fifth game.
The Lady Eagles stormed out to a quick 5-0 lead in the finale, then gradually extended their advantage out to 9-2 and eventually 13-5. The hosts rallied back to within 13-8, but EHS broke serve and added the game-clincher one serve later to wrap up the 3-2 match triumph.
Brielle Newland led the Eastern service attack with 18 points, followed by Megan Maxon with nine points and Addi Well with eight points. Sydney Reynolds and Juli Durst respectively added seven and four points, while Emma Edwards completed things with three points.
Maxon and Reynolds led a balanced net attack with 16 kills each, with Edwards adding 10 kills and a team-best 10 blocks. Bella Mugrage also had four blocks, while Durst dished out a team-high 41 assists.
Sydney Tackett paced the Lady Trojans with 18 service points, followed by Madison Perry and Olivia Dickerson with 11 points apiece. Olivia Ramey was next with six points, while Sydney Johnson and Kyndal Kearns respectively contributed three points and one point.
Perry led the PHS net attack with 20 kills, while Kennedy Bowling provided 10 kills and a team-best nine blocks. Dickerson added five kills, while Perry and Tackett each chipped in five blocks. Ramey handed out 33 assists as well in the setback.
Eastern hasn’t won a postseason match at the district level since falling in the D-4 district final back in 2018.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.