LONDONDERRY, Ohio — All good things must come to an end.
The Gallia Academy volleyball team had its historic campaign come to an end Wednesday night at Larry Jordan Gymnasium on the campus of Southeastern High School, as the top-seeded Blue Angels dropped a Division II District Semifinal match to second-seeded Circleville, in straight games.
This season the Blue Angels (22-3) won both the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League and Ohio Valley Conference championships, as well as their first sectional title since 2004, all while finishing 18th in the final Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Division II Poll, and setting a program record for wins. Gallia Academy won their first 18 matches of the season and posted 14 straight-game victories this season.
The Lady Tigers (21-4) — who finished second in the Mid-State League Buckeye Division — led early in the first game, but surrendered the advantage to GAHS at 6-5. The Blue Angels’ lead was short-lived, as Circleville claimed seven of the next eight points and led 12-7.
Gallia Academy regained the lead at 16-15, but the Lady Tigers rallied back to take a 22-21 advantage. Gallia Academy claimed back-to-back points to regain the lead at 23-22, but CHS took the next three points and the first game by a 25-23 final.
GAHS took an early advantage in the second game, but surrendered the lead at 7-6 and never led again. Circleville led by as many as seven points in the second, and survived a late comeback attempt to take the game by a 25-22 tally.
The Blue and White charged out to a 7-3 lead in the third game, but nine straight points were claimed by the Lady Tigers, giving CHS a 12-7 advantage. However, GAHS still had some fight left in it, as the Blue Angels tied the game at 17 and eventually took the lead back at 21-20. The Blue Angels were just one point away from forcing a fourth game when CHS rattled off three straight points for a 26-24 win and a 3-0 match victory.
“My girls probably showed more heart and fight in them tonight than they’ve had to do all season, and I was really proud of that” GAHS coach Janice Rosier said. “We changed things up a little bit in the third set and they played well with it, so I was really proud of them.”
Gallia Academy’s service attack was led by junior Jenna Meadows with 10 points including two aces, followed by Carly Shriver with nine points and one ace. Grace Martin posted eight points, while Ashton Webb and Abby Wood each had three points in the setback.
Circleville libero Kaylee Dunning posted a match-best 15 service points, while Olivia Fausnaugh and Leeanne Stevens each added eight points, including two aces by Stevens. Heather Greenlee had five points and one ace, Bailey Kemp added two points, while Maggie Johnson had one.
The Blue Angels were led at the net by Webb with nine kills, followed by Jordan Walker with eight. Meadows and Martin both hammered home five kills, Hanna Johnson added two, while Ryleigh Caldwell finished with one. Martin led the Gallia Academy net defense with four blocks, followed by Caldwell with two and Johnson with one.
Pasquale led GAHS with 18 digs, followed by Meadows with 16 and Martin with 14. Martin also paced Gallia Academy with 14 assists, followed by Shriver with 10.
Amanda Stevens and Lili Kawasaki led CHS at the net with nine kills each, followed by Leeanne Stevens with seven, Kemp with five, Johnson with three, Greenlee with two and Anya Bingman with one. Kawasaki had two blocks for the Lady Tigers, while Kemp and Amanda Stevens each had one. Greenlee had a team-best 14 assists, followed by Leeanne Stevens with 13, while Dunning had a match-high 24 digs, followed by Johnson with 20.
This marked the final match from GAHS seniors Hanna Johnson and Rio Grande signee Jordan Walker.
“We will miss the big blocks from both Jordan Walker and Hanna Johnson,” Rosier said. “They’ve been a huge positive effect for this team all season.”
With 11 returning players, including all seven district semifinal servers, Gallia Academy has high hopes from next season.
“These girls go and really work hard in the offseason,” Rosier said. “I’ve already had a couple of them ask me what they need to work on during the offseason and that shows an awful lot of dedication. I look forward to next year, we’ve got a lot coming back, although the two seniors will defiantly be missed.”
Circleville advances to its first district final since 2007 and will face third-seeded Athens, while came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat top-seeded Unioto 3-2 in Wednesday’s semifinal.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.