CENTENARY, Ohio — No since waiting another 11 years.
The top-seeded Gallia Academy volleyball team — which claimed its first sectional crown since 2004, last season — earned its second straight trip to the district tournament with a 3-0 sweep of fifth-seeded Marietta, in Saturday’s Division II Sectional Final in Gallia County.
The opening game was tied just once, at 3-3, and Gallia Academy (24-0) never trailed. The Blue Angels led by as much as seven and won the first game by a 25-20 count.
The second game featured just two ties, but GAHS never trailed, rolling to the 25-17 victory. The Blue Angels finished off the 3-0 sweep with a wire-to-wire, 25-15 victory in the third game.
“This team, they don’t want to lose,” third-year GAHS head coach Janice Rosier said. “They don’t have it in them, I’ve never seen a team like it. There’s something about losing with this group and they just won’t let it happen. They played what we’ve been practicing all season long. We were defiantly out-sized, we’ve talked all week about ‘it’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play’ and they absolutely pulled it together. (Marietta) is defiantly the best team we’ve faced.”
The Gallia Academy service attack was led by senior Ryleigh Caldwell with 12 points, including two aces. Next was Carly Shriver with seven points, followed by Brooke Pasquale with six points and two aces. Jenna Meadows and Grace Martin both finished with five points, with Meadows marking a pair of aces. GAHS freshman Alex Barnes finished with three service points in the triumph.
Martin led the victors at the net with 14 kills and two blocks. Meadows posted seven kills and one block, Caldwell and Hunter Copley both added four kills, while Barnes chipped in with two kills and two blocks. Shriver rounded out the Blue Angel net attack with one kill and a match-best 31 assists.
Pasquale led the GAHS defense with 22 digs, followed by Martin, Shriver and Caldwell with 11 apiece.
Amber Brooks led the MHS (15-9) service attack with four points, followed by Lexi Lincoln, Erica Roberts, Meadow Benton and Alexis Palazzo with three each. Brooks and Palazzo each had 10 kills to lead the Lady Tigers at the net, with Brooks adding a block. Lincoln had a team-best 15 assists, while Roberts led the Marietta defense with 18 digs.
The Blue Angels advance to the Wednesday’s district semifinal at Southeastern High School, where they will meet second-seeded Unioto. The Lady Shermans and Blue Angels last met in the 2012 sectional final, which UHS won in straight games.
“One game at a time, just one game at a time,” Rosier said. “We come back in the gym on Monday and we’ll go back at it.”
Gallia Academy — which hasn’t won a match at the district level since 2001 — enters the district tournament with a an impressive resume, which includes a school record for wins, along with the school’s first-undefeated regular season and the program’s fifth league title in the last four years. GAHS is also ranked 11th in the final Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Division II poll, and has only dropped a single game twice this fall.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.