CHILLICOTHE — On the opening night of the second half of the Scioto Valley Conference volleyball schedule, Unioto seized more of the same results; wins.
The Shermans swept Zane Trace at home; 25-16, 25-20 and 27-25. The sweep was the ninth so far for Unioto (13-1, 7-1 SVC) this season.
“Our big goal lately has been to improve our mental toughness,” Unioto coach Aaron Ridenour said. “We just need to really work on finishing sets and finishing them strong. We need to find that spark to get us going again when we get a little lethargic.”
Thursday night, that ‘spark’ Ridenour alluded to came in the form of junior Shelby Ford — who has quietly continued to make her presence known on the court.
Ford was at it again, especially in the second set, sacrificing her body to save loose balls and showing hustle and intensity with each serve.
“Shelby came in and did some hustling, played some defense and got some balls dug,” Ridenour said. “It gave us a little energy there in that second set. I told her that her best quality is that she hustles a lot. That’s what she gave us at that point in time.”
The Pioneers (10-6, 3-5 SVC) took an early 9-6 lead in the first set but allowed Unioto to take an 11-10 lead and keep the edge. The Shermans built advantages of 15-12 and 21-16 before closing with a 7-0 run to take a 1-0 match lead, 25-16.
In the second, Zane Trace stuck to that same trend as the Pioneers took early leads of 8-4 and 13-8. But once again, Unioto put together a run — this time to the tune of 10-1 — to seize an 18-14 lead. That momentum would carry the Shermans to a 25-20 victory in the set and a 2-0 lead in the match.
“The main thing we wanted to do tonight (against Zane Trace) was to take away their placement,” Ridenour said. “We know they like to place the ball and tip it around. We really emphasized moving into the area that we needed to cover to take that away. We did okay with that. We picked up a lot of their tips that we might have missed the first time we played them.”
The third set was the closest battle of the three, seeing 11 ties and four lead changes throughout.
In a back-and-forth affair, Unioto had a 20-16 lead but surrendered a 4-0 run to Zane Trace, tying the game at 20. The Pioneers would take a 23-22 lead before the Shermans forced ties at 24 and 25 and eventually sealed the envelope with a 27-25 victory.
Kassidey and Abbey Winegardner had 14 kills, leading the way, while also posting over 10 digs each. Madi Eberst chipped in with 35 assists and a team-high 20 digs and Amanda McGlone finished with 10 kills and four blocks.
For Zane Trace, Katie Unger led the way with 10 kills and 22 digs. She was followed by Ashton Ward with 12 assists and 13 digs. Kelly Dresbach also helped out with three aces, six kills and three digs.
The Shermans will return to action Saturday at Washington Court House for a tri-match before heading back into SVC play Tuesday, at Huntington. Zane Trace will play again Tuesday at home, against Southeastern.
“We’re looking at this weekend first because we need those wins to keep our seeding up in the district. That’s important there,” Ridenour said. “Then Tuesday, we need to step up our game and perform well in a tough match-up at Huntington.”