Lady Devils move to district with win over Eastern Brown –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
An old sports adage says that it is a tough task to beat a team three times in a single season. Don’t tell that to the North Adams Lady Devils varsity volleyball squad. The Lady Devils threw that adage right out the window last Saturday afternoon as they hosted the Eastern Brown Lady Warriors in a Division III sectional championship match.
After defeating the Lady Warriors twice in the regular season, the North Adams girls hit the trifecta on Saturday, rolling past Eastern Brown in straight sets and in less than an hour, 25-11, 25-16, and 25-13.
The sectional title win was quite an impressive performance by the senior-laden Lady Devils, as they took control of the match early and never really took their foot off the gas, defeating a fellow member of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference who had played them two tough four-set matches in the regular season.
“Other than missing too may serves, I thought we played pretty well,” said North Adams head coach Katie Ragan. “It was nice to have Avery back in the lineup and it took some time to get her back in the offensive flow, but overall today was very good.”
“We’ve now won the SHAC gold ball five times in a row and this is our fourth sectional in a row, so these seniors are the first group to win sectionals all four years.”
The tone for the match was set early in the first set when North Adams’ Avery Harper reeled off six consecutive service points, aided by a pair of Charlee Louden kills, to give the home team a quick 8-2 advantage. Later kills by Delaney Harper and Brooklyn Stout extended the lead out to 13-4.
After Eastern picked up a couple of points, it was a trio of Delaney Harper serves plus another Stout kill that made it 17-6. The two sides began to swap points which worked out just fine for North Adams since they had a double digit lead, The first set came to an end with a pair of service aces by Louden as the Lady Devils took the set rather handily 25-11.
After a less-than-inspiring performance in the first set, the Lady Warriors rebounded in the second set and played much better, keeping things close, thanks to a series of uncharacteristic service errors by North Adams. Eastern brown took its first lead of the match at 4-3 on a nice block by Alexa Pennington, and led 10-9 after another block, this time by senior Mikayla Farris. Unfortunately for the visitors that was to be the high point of the second set for them as Stout stepped back to serve and ran off six straight, getting a pair of kills each from Louden and Avery Harper, as the Lady Devils jumped in front 16-10 and never trailed again.
With North Adams up 21-16, the final four points of the set went their way, closing with two service points from Abby Campton and an Avery Harper kill to take command of the match with a 25-16 win in the second set.
The third set belonged to the home team from start to finish, leaving no doubt that they wanted another shot in the district tournament. Five Stout serves and two Louden kills made it 5-0 in the third, increased to 8-2 later on yet another hard spike at the net by Louden. The Lady Warriors rebounded temporarily with three straight serves from Ashlee Minnix, but the Lady Devils answered by grabbing seven of the set’s next 10 points to lead 15-8.
The serving of Louden and Delaney Harper moved the commanding lead out to 22-13 and kills by Stout and Avery Harper plus a Campton service ended the third set 25-13 in North Adams’ favor, giving the match and a fourth consecutive Division III sectional championship to the Lady Devils.
As they have been doing all season, the Lady Devils continued to etch their names in the school record books. In Saturday’s win, Charlee Louden broke the school record for most kills in a career with 1,057, breaking the mark previously held by Rylee Copas. The school record for most assists in a season went to senior setter Sydney Kendall with 784, breaking the record held by Kayla Baker. Kendall now owns every assist record in school history, match, season, and career.
In the sectional win over Eastern Brown, Louden had 20 kills and 11 digs, with Kendall adding the 40 assists. Brooklyn Stout had 15 digs and nine kills, with Avery Harper getting 10 kills and four digs.
The win on Saturday moved the Lady Devils back to the district semi-finals where they were in action on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Waverly High School, facing the number one seeded Wheelersburg Lady Pirates, The Lady Pirates topped North Adams in three sets in the regular season so the locals will be looking to exact their revenge and move to the district title game, which is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28 back in Waverly.
“We are hoping that having Avery back will make a difference for us this time,” said Coach Ragan. “We will have to cut down on the errors to compete with Wheelersburg, they run a very balanced offense and set the ball up and hit it every time. We’ve played them and I have a tape so we will be ready.”