North Adams finishes 19-5 after four-set loss to Wheelersburg –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Another successful season came to another far too early end for the North Adams Lady Devils varsity volleyball squad. After downing Eastern Brown to capture their fourth consecutive sectional championship, the Lady Devils moved on to the Division III district semi-final on Oct. 24 in Waverly where they matched up with the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates.
District tournament play has not been real kind to the Lady Devils in recent years and that was the story last week as they just couldn’t seem to put it all together and ended up seeing their season end with a four-set loss to Wheelersburg, 25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 25-19.
“Wheelersburg is a very good team,” said North Adams head coach Katie Ragan in her postgame radio interview. “They are a very defensive-minded team and they are young and will just get better. We played a tough non-league schedule to get ready for opponents like Wheelersburg, playing schools that were better than us to prepare. 19-5 is a good record but tonight we just fell short of our goal.”
“We have solved the sectionals, but just can’t seem to get past that first district match. The Southeast is a very tough district and often has a state participant and in order to win the district, you have to be ready to beat two good teams.”
The two teams had met in the regular season with Wheelersburg winning in three sets on the Lady Devils’ home court, but North Adams was without senior Avery Harper, who returned for tournament play, and that meant the two teams were fairly evenly matched, with the Lady Pirates squeaking out a win 25-21 in the first set.
The second set was a tight one throughout, with neither side getting up by more than three points until the end. The “kills” of Charlee Louden kept the Lady Devils afloat and a pair of service points from Abby Campton tied the set at 14 apiece. The next three points went to the Lady Pirates, but with Brooklyn Stout serving the next three went right back to North Adams to again tie the score, but when the next side out went to Wheelersburg, they took full advantage, reeling off six straight behind the serves of Kaylee Darnell to take control of the set.
Another Louden kill kept North Adams alive but a block at the net by the Lady Pirates gave them the 25-18 win and gave them a seemingly insurmountable two sets to none lead in the match.
Things did not look good early in the third set for the Lady Devils as they saw their opponent jump to a quick 8-4 advantage, before the girls in green began to work their way back. A Louden kill cut the gap to 12-10 and fueled a run where North Adams picked up nine of the next 13 points to move in front 19-16, that run spurred by some inspired play from freshman Delaney Harper.
A later kill by Avery Harper kept the Lady Devils up 20-18 and after Wheelersburg tied it at 20, the Lady Devils, with Louden at the net and Avery Harper serving, took five of six points to stay alive in the match, winning the third set 25-21.
That North Adams momentum carried over to the beginning of the fourth set as a series of Stout serves gave the Lady Devils a 6-3 advantage. The Lady Pirates clawed their way back and behind the strong serves of Mallory Bergan, rattled off six straight to go on top 13-8. North Adams battled to stay within striking distance until the momentum swung swiftly back to the orange and black side of the net, with Wheelersburg using the serves of Alli McQuay to build a 22-14 lead and put the Lady Devils on the verge of elimination.
North Adams managed a quick run of three Stout service points to draw closer, but the Lady Pirates claimed three of the set’s final four points and took the set and the match, winning 25-19 to advance to the district finals.
In the season-ending loss, Louden led the way with 26 kills and 24 digs, with Sydney Kendall adding 44 assists and 15 digs. Avery Harper contributed 9 kills and four blocks with Adison Wright adding 28 digs from her libero position.
The Lady Devils finished their season at 19-5, winners of their fifth consecutive gold ball trophy in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, and their fourth consecutive sectional crown. The 2017 team shattered the North Adams volleyball record book, with six seniors departing-Louden, Wright, Campton, Stout, Kendall, and Avery Harper.
Louden leaves with the records for most kills in a match (34), most kills in a season (463), and most kills in a career (1.083). Kendall departs with the following records beside her name: most assists in a match (60), most assists in a season (828), and most assists in a career (2,200). Campton now holds the school mark for most aces in a career (211) along with the most in a match and a season, which she broke her junior year.
“We want to get our kids to the point that they expect to win,” said Coach Ragan. “When we get down, they have to expect to find a way to come back. We have a tradition and our underclassmen want to keep this thing going and many people think that isn’t possible with us losing so much to graduation, but the younger kids are determined.”