WAVERLY – It wasn’t the best they’ve played this year by any means. However, they’ll take the win.
Scioto Valley Conference champion Adena swept No. 5 seeded South Point in a Division III district semifinal Wednesday night at Waverly High School — 25-15, 25-11 and 25-18.
The victory hoists the Warriors (22-2) into their 11th district title contest in the past 12 seasons.
“I thought we started out slow tonight,” Adena coach Laura Smith said. “I’m hoping that was just youthful jitters. I didn’t feel like we were playing at the top of our game all the way around. We had some miscues and different things like that, not things you want to see at this time of the season. So we’ve got a couple more days of practice to try and iron that out so we can hopefully come back and be at the top of our game.”
While sloppiness may have been present, Smith’s team escaped with what matters most; a victory.
“We came out on top of our mistakes,” Smith said. “That’s the good thing. But I thought we came out and played lackadaisical and not as focused as we could be. That’s a youthful thing.”
The lack of focus Smith eluded to showed early in the first set as the Warriors found themselves engaged in an 8-8 tie to begin the night.
Thanks to multiple unforced errors for South Point (15-6), the Warriors pulled away with a 7-2 run late in the set, capturing a 21-14 lead. That run ended at 11-3 and Adena had a 1-0 match lead after a 25-15 win.
In the second, it was juniors Devon Putnam and Taylor Rawlings who took matters into their own hands by acting as the cornerstones in a 16-5 run to start things off. That advantage carried momentum into a 25-11 win and over to the final set.
Though they may have been in complete control throughout the third, Adena’s demeanor still seemed shaken.
The Warriors took leads of 6-2, 14-8, 18-9 and 23-12 before the Pointers managed a 4-0 run before falling 25-18.
“You find out what you can and can’t tell teams,” Smith said. “The best that these kids have played was going into games against Lehman Catholic and Worthington because they had no clue what they would be up against. And we played good teams. But we played with reckless abandon and there were no outside influences. We weren’t expected to win those games so we could just play freely.”
The slow start possibly could have had something to do with a No. 1 seed attached to Adena’s resume coming into tournament play.
“They’ve had the target on their back trying to chase that gold ball,” Smith said. “So they understand that. They learned some things just from that run. Hopefully they can see that’s what’s going to happen here as well.”
As far as evading a slow start in Saturday’s upcoming district final contest, the Warriors do have ideals in place.
“You can’t crawl into their heads and try to think for them,” Smith said. “You just have to try and tell them what’s expected of them and what they need to do to mentally and physically prepare themselves. All we’re asking of them is to give their best efforts on (game day). We want them to make sure and get their rest, make sure they’re eating properly, hydrating themselves throughout the day and be mentally prepared.”
Putnam led the way with 14 kills while Carissa Poehler added 12 of her own. Rawlings finished with four kills, nine digs and four aces as setter Lanie Shea registered three kills, 13 digs and a total of 27 assists.
Adena will now meet Zane Trace in a Division III District Final, Saturday at Waverly High School at approximately 2:30 p.m.
A win for the Warriors would solidify a third straight appearance at the regional level.