By BRET BEVENS
Southern Ohio Today
SUGAR GROVE – It took Adena four sets, but the Warriors were able to defeat Westfall for the third time this season, this time in the Region 11 semifinals.
Adena dropped the opening set to its fellow Scioto Valley Conference opponent, 28-30, but rallied to win the next three sets 25-16, 27-25 and 25-20.
With each team having one a set, Adena eeked out a thrilling 27-25 victory in the pivotal third set.
Westfall looked determined to take control of the match by leading most of the third set. Adena had not led the set since the opening moments when the score was 2-1.
The Mustangs took control and led 23-20, poised to go up two sets to one. Adena had other plans and fought its way back late with net play by Sydney Foglesong and Hannah Burns. Senior Ari DaRif stepped to the back line with game knotted at 25 and served up two big points, including an ace on set point, to give Adena a huge comeback win and the match’s momentum.
“You just have to keep thinking one point at a time,” Adena Coach Laura Smith said.
Adena continued its roll and started the fourth set with a 4-0 lead thanks to the service line work of Makenna Lovely. That four-point edge held steady for nearly the whole set and Adena never trailed.
In the opening set, Adena led 8-5 and expanded the lead to 12-7 and eventually stretched the lead to, 15-8. But Westfall started chipping away at the Warriors lead with good front line play by Kristin Phillips and Marissa Mullins and aided by a few Adena mistakes.
The Mustangs had cut into the Adena lead and when Mullins stepped to the service line late in the match, her team’s deficit was four at 21-17. She brought her team even at 21 before Adena recorded a sideout.
Adena had two set points late but could not put the Mustangs away. A tip attempt that sailed wide gave Westfall set point and then Mullins served up an ace to win the first set for Westfall.
“We had it, then we let it get away from us,” Smith said.
In the second set, Adena again built a lead. The lead was a modest point when libero Camryn Carroll stepped to the back line. Carroll served up three points, including an ace. Lovely later equaled Carroll’s performance and the Adena lead swelled to eight at 17-9.
Some good defensive play at the net by Adena helped it preserve the lead until set point when Westfall’s Hailey Young served the ball over the Adena back line to give set to the Warriors.
Smith credited her team’s hard serving, which led to 17 aces, and kept Westfall’s defense on its toes.
Carroll had six aces to lead the Warriors, Breanna McQuiniff had four, DaRif had three and Jenna Martin had a pair. To go with two aces, Martin had 14 kills and three blocks in the winning effort.
Makenna Lovely led Adena with 10 kills, Ellie Harper had eight to go along with five digs, and one block and an assist. Sydney Foglesong, Makaela Lovely and Hannah Burns each pounded out five kills and Carroll had 19 digs to lead Adena.
Adena will play Tuscarawas Valley in the Region 11 final at 2 p.m. Saturday at Berne Union High School.