RACINE, Ohio — New year, new team, still Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division champions.
The Southern volleyball team — which was one of three teams that shared the 2015 TVC Hocking champions — clinched a share of the 2016 league title on Tuesday night, as the Lady Tornadoes swept Wahama.
Southern (19-2, 15-1 TVC Hocking) scored the first nine points of the opening game and never trailed on its way to the 25-7 victory.
After four ties in the second game, Wahama (18-0, 15-0) took its first lead at 8-7. The Lady Tornadoes immediately regained the advantage as part of a 5-0 run and they led the rest of the way to the 25-15 win.
SHS capped off the 3-0 victory with a wire-to-wire, 25-7 win in the third game.
This is the fifth league title in Southern history and the second time the Lady Tornadoes have won back-to-back crowns. Southern’s other TVC Hocking championships came in 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2015.
First-year SHS head coach Kim Hupp — who was a sophomore at SHS the last time the Purple and Gold repeated as league champs — noted the remarkable job the current Lady Tornadoes squad did to replace nine seniors that graduated from last year’s team.
“I think the girls have done a very nice job filling the loss of those nine seniors,” Coach Hupp said. “I told them last night ‘it was a new coach and a new team that came back this year’ and I think they’ve all worked very hard to get to where they are now. I think it’s very important that the girls get that share of the league title again this year, it kind of sets the tone for years to come.”
Southern could still be the outright TVC Hocking champion, but only if South Gallia can defeat Waterford, on Thursday in Mercerville.
On Tuesday, the Lady Tornado service attack was led by Kamryn Smith, who finished with 18 points and two aces. Talon Drummer marked 13 service points for the hosts, Marissa Johnson added 11, while Amanda Cole posted six points. Sierra Cleland and Katie Barton marked five points and one point respectively, rounding out the category for the victors.
Lizzy Mullens led the WHS service with three points, followed by Madison VanMeter with two. Maddy VanMatre, Hannah Billups and Emily VanMatre each had one point is the setback.
“We’ve made a few changes to our defensive positioning to try and get to a few more balls,” Wahama head coach Matt VanMeter said. “We’re still having trouble reading the ball off of the hitter, but a few changes we made are helping us get to some more balls. The girls moving their feet a little better, but we’re still not making teams earn a lot of points.”
Southern’s net attack was led by Faith Teaford with 12 kills and one block, followed by Cole and Smith with 10 kills apiece. Cleland had three kills and one block in the win, Macie Michael chipped in with two kills, while Johnson and Marlee Maynard both had one kill. Maynard finished with a match-best 35 assists in the win.
Maddy VanMatre led the Wahama net attack with four kills and three blocks. Billups marked three kills for the Red and White, Mullens added two kills and one block, while Makinley Bumgarner had two kills. Grace VanMeter finished with one kill in the match, while Madison VanMeter had a team-best nine assists.
Southern will have a chance to enjoy its league title, as the Lady Tornadoes won’t return to action until the sectional final on October 20, when they will host the winner of 10th-seeded Miller and seventh-seeded Symmes Valley.
“We’re coming off of big wins over Eastern and then Waterford, so I think we have momentum going into the tournament,” Coach Hupp said.
Southern — which finished the regular season with nine consecutive wins —also swept Wahama on September 20, in Mason.
Wahama finishes up TVC Hocking play on Wednesday when the Lady Falcons — who are still in search of their first win — host Eastern.
“We’re still building, but unfortunately this TVC is just really, really hard,” Coach VanMeter said. “We’re only seven years into this, we’ll lose two seniors, but when we come back next year, we’ll be a lot older of a team.”
After hosting EHS, Wahama will begin a two-week stretch of non-league games, starting with a visit from Williamstown and Point Pleasant on Monday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.