Amanda-Clearcreek has aced every test of this postseason so far.
Now, the Aces are making history. They beat a higher-seeded team for the second consecutive match Saturday to win the program’s first district title.
No. 6 Amanda beat No. 4 Licking Valley, 25-15, 25-22, 28-26, to win a Division II district title at Worthington Christian. The Aces previously beat No. 3 Big Walnut on Thursday.
“We made history,” senior setter Mariah Compton said. “It feels great. Nobody will ever take that away. I am just amazed with our talent.”
Amanda (19-5) plays Norwalk at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Ontario High School in a regional semifinal. The Truckers were ranked No. 4 in the final state coaches poll.
The Aces first put Licking Valley (20-6) on its heels with their aggressive serving. The Aces then went for the kill. Kacee Salyers had 10 aces while also doing strong work at the net. While the Panthers were off-balance, Compton and sophomore Mallory Rennard also kept the Panthers off-balance by setting Alana Smith and Carlee Young.
“The passes make our job easy,” Compton said. “Then, we make our passes good for the hitters. It is just awesome. We played so well together. The third game really scared me, but we pulled it together. I knew we had it in us.”
Amanda coach Cindy Bennett has a philosophy that one service error is one too many, but she could not have been too displeased with her team’s few service errors. The Panthers constantly were on their heels and spent much of the night scrambling to get the ball returned.
Valley also traditionally has a strong service game, but the Aces’ back row led by libero Jessica Strittmatter did a good job of getting balls up. Even in the third set when the Panthers led the entire way, the Aces never let them get on a run.
“They pay for their errors, but they are willing to do that,” Bennett said. “When you have a consistent jump server, I like to use them because they produce a lot of aces. If they jump serve and it becomes inconsistent, we need to step it back down and pick the consistency back up. Then, we can get back into the jump serving. I never give up on anything. That is my philosophy.”
The final two points were appropriate for the night. With score tied at 26, Salyers had back-to-back aces to set off a raucous celebration that included several members of Amanda’s boisterous student section.
“This is their last year, and we needed to go out and play for the (seniors),” Rennard said.
Now, the Aces get a state power, but high seeds have not intimidated them yet.
“I personally don’t want to (know much),” Compton said. “I feel it might psych us out and feel like we are not good enough. It just makes us go in knowing that whatever they have we can come out on top because we are just as good.”