The winning ways continued last Saturday afternoon for Coach Katie Ragan and her North Adams Lady Devils volleyball squad and this time it resulted in the team’s second consecutive sectional tournament championship.
Moving up this season to Division III tourney play, the Lady Devils hosted a familiar foe in a county rival, the West Union Lady Dragons. The match up was a Division III sectional final between the No. 3 seeded Lady Devils and their No. 6 seeded visitors.
The seeds held true on Saturday as the North Adams girls earned their fifth sectional title under Ragan and a trip to the district tournament, downing the Lady Dragons is straight sets, 25-16, 25-8, and 25-9.
“Winning the sectional was one of our goals this season,” said Coach Ragan in her post game interview with C103 Radio. “We haven’t always been as successful in the tournament as we have in the regular season.”
The first set of the match turned out to be the closest of the three, although the Lady Devils jumped out to a quick 11-4 advantage. A service point from Sydney Kendall later increased that margin to 15-7, but a kill by West Union’s Mikayla Akers kept her team within striking distance. A nice block at the net by Casey Mueller drew West Union to within 16-10, but North Adams bounced to get a kill from Charlee Louden, a block from Avery Harper,and two service aces from Adison Wright to go up 22-11.
West Union showed some resiliency, however, scoring four in a row off the serving efforts of Kiersten Rowe, but that string was broken by a Harper kill and two consecutive service points from Louden closed out a 25-16 first set win for the home side.
“We expected West Union to come in here and play hard and they challenged us in that first set,”said Ragan. “They played with us for awhile and the first set we looked a little uncomfortable because we had some different people on the floor, but we got better as we went along.”
“We started out nervous today,” said West Union head coach Deb McClanahan. “I thought we might settle down in the second set and play but it just didn’t happen for us. We just could never get in the flow of the match.”
Set number two began much like the first one had as the host Lady Devils raced to an 11-2 lead behind the strong serving of Abby Campton and Madison Jenkins. This time North Adams kept the foot on the gas, with a trio of Louden kills combined with six consecutive service points from Brooklyn Stout stretching the lead out to 18-4 and forcing a West Union time out.
The Lady Dragons, now facing a big deficit, tried to hang tough, getting a service point from Kendall Gallowitz to make it 20-7, but the Lady Devils were in complete control, getting three service points from Maddie Toole as they rolled to a 25-8 second set victory, taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
In that second set win, a milestone was reached by North Adams junior libero Maddie Toole, who broke the school record for digs in a career with her 981st, and she will still have another year of play to add to that mark.
“People notice the hitters on our team and they notice our height but Maddie is the one doing the most talking and her play in the back row gets us going,”said Coach Ragan of her record-setting junior. “She has the bruises to show how many times she hits the floor. She broke the season record for digs earlier in the year and she is on pace to become the first player in the history of North Adams volleyball to get 1,000 digs, which she might get in our next game.”
Again in the third set, it was the Lady Devils making a strong statement, this time taking a 7-0 lead with some power play at the net, with five of those seven points coming on kills. Three service points from Jenkins upped the margin to 11-2 as it was obvious that it was only a matter of time now before this match came to an end.
North Adams continued to pile up the points and an from the service line by Toole made it 18-5 and forced another time out by the Lady Dragons. A point off serve by Kristen Grooms kept West Union alive but a kill and a block by Jenkins and then one final kill by Louden on the set’s final point gave North Adams the final set 25-9 and with that, a sectional championship for the second consecutive season and a trip to the district semi-finals in Division III.
The winners were led by a trio of young ladies who stuffed the stat sheet, Charlee Louden with 9 kills, 3 aces and 6 digs, Madison Jenkins with 7 kills and 4 blocks, and Sydney Kendall with 22 assists and 2 aces.
The loss ended the 2015 season for the Lady Dragons with a final record of 8-13 and the team bid farewell to four seniors, Kristen Grooms, Mikayla Akers, CaseyMueller, and Hannah Riddle.
“Kristen was asked to play a lot more defense this year and really helped us out there,” said Coach McClanahan. “Mikayla can hit as hard as anyone when he gets to the ball while Casey led the team with 28 block kills. Hannah wasn’t a hard hitter but we could count on her for some well-placed hits from the weak side. All four girls will certainly be missed next year.”
The win improved the Lady Devils to 20-3 on the season and sent them into a Tuesday, Oct.27 district semi-final match with Westfall, played at Waverly High School.
“The district is always a challenge, no matter who you play,” added Ragan. “There’s just no such thing as an easy district match.”