The Tygers got served Tuesday night.
Ashland came up with 14 aces en route to a 25-21, 25-17, 25-18 victory over Mansfield Senior in a Division I district semifinal volleyball match at Galion High School.
Especially tough on Senior High was the service of Ashland senior middle hitter MacKenzie McFarlin. She had four aces with her jump serve, scoring eight points with it.
“She has that ability to really get the momentum going for us,” Ashland coach Jenise Vaughn said. “When teams are getting nailed by those serves over and over and over again, that’s a little demoralizing for them. It’s nice to take a little pressure off the rest of our team.”
McFarlin said she started experimenting with the jump serve after her sophomore season.
“It’s timing. You really have to get your timing down and contact the ball in the right spots,” McFarlin said. “Even if I don’t hit it good, I know my team will back it up when they bring it back over the net.”
While some jump servers can be erratic, Vaughn has confidence in her senior behind the line.
“She’s good because she has different types of serves that she can throw at teams,” the coach said. “There are a lot of intricacies to it with the timing and the arm mechanics, but she puts in the hours of practice so she’s got that thing nailed down.”
The Arrows had a hard time shaking Senior High in the first game, hurting themselves, as 14 of the Tygers’ 21 points came on hitting and service errors by Ashland.
“Even though we had too many unforced errors in Game 1, we played good defense and our serve reception was solid and that really kept us in the game,” Vaughn said.
Ashland still came up with 12 kills in the first game as McFarlin had six and junior middle hitter Alexis Stoops had four. In the second and third games, the Arrows cut down on the mistakes while still managing to win the kill battle.
Stoops finished with 16 kills, while McFarlin had 11. The Tygers had trouble mustering an effective attack. Senior middle hitter Erika Hamner led with seven kills, and junior middle Janae Haris had four. Senior High (4-14) did come away with nine stuff blocks with Harris getting four. Tygers coach Catina Mitchell was unavailable for comment following the match.
The Arrows (13-9) earned a berth into Saturday’s district championship match against Findlay. It will be played at 3 p.m. at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, and is Ashland’s first district title match since 2007 and 2008.
“I think there was a lot of strong emotions in Game 1 which will happen in the tournament. Both teams were coming out ready to fight. We were lucky that we came out on top, and I was really pleased with how we really controlled the tempo better in Game 2,” Vaughn said. “I’m really proud of these girls. They worked incredibly hard and deserve this honor and recognition. This is something the seniors set as a goal when they were younger.”