Buckeye Trail, Linsly win to reach 3A final
• Jets streak snapped at 19
MORRISTOWN — Seeds are simply a number.
And in the case of the OVAC Class 3A volleyball tournament, which unfolded Tuesday evening at Union Local High School, they didn’t mean much.
Both of the lower seeds — fourth-seeded Buckeye Trail and third-seeded Linsly — earned a return trip here Saturday afternoon to play in the conference championship game.
The Warriors dispatched the host and top-seeded Jets in five highly entertaining and competitive sets by scores of 26-24, 23-25, 16-25, 25-12 and 15-13.
Linsly, meanwhile, jumped out to a two-set lead on Magnolia and eventually prevailed in four sets by scores of 25-18, 25-23, 21-25 and 26-24.
In the opening match, fourth-seeded Buckeye Trail rallied from a 2-1 deficit to stun Union Local and advance to the title game.
“It was (Trail’s) night and it deserved it,” UL coach Kaye Sechrest said.
The Warriors, who had been perennial OVAC contenders, failed to qualify last season in Wendy McVicker’s first season at the helm. Now, they’ll have the opportunity to play for the school’s 18 conference title.
“It broke our hearts that we didn’t qualify (for OVAC) last year,” McVicker said. “The girls wanted this. They never quit and never stopped playing. We’re (in the championship game) and we’re going to try to win it.”
Union Local, which had only lost two sets all season, was seeking its first OVAC title since 1986 when it claimed the combined 3A/4A title.
However, the youthful Jets will now have to shift their focus to the Division III sectional, which opens next week.
“We’re 19-1 and I am still proud of these girls,” Sechrest said. “It was a good match. We got up in the fifth, but we just couldn’t close it out. These girls are tough, and I know they’ll bounce back.”
The Jets built a three-point lead in the fifth set, but seemingly each time they seemed to gain some steam, Buckeye Trail senior Sam Canner, who is bound for Western Kentucky, was there to ‘kill’ the momentum.
Canner was an absolute force from both rows, but she especially made her presence felt around the net. She finished with 22 kills, 14 blocks and 16 points.
“Sam is a great player and does a lot of big things for us every game,” McVicker said.
Union Local was led on the stat sheet by talented freshman Torre Kildow, who had 20 kills, 23 assists and 16 digs.
Junior Casey Kildow contributed 12 kills, 23 assists and 21 digs. Sophomore Keira Gregor added six kills and six digs. Chloe Doud added 12 digs and four kills.
“We lost to a good team and there are little things we need to continue to work on,” Sechrest said. “Serving and getting to defense a little faster. They did some quicks and our girls were just getting off the ground and (Canner) was already hitting.”
Complementing Canner’s brilliant performance were Madison King, who had 11 kills, six blocks, six digs and two aces. Ava Tank added three aces and five kills. Sidney Beaver handed out 19 assists.
Linsly boasts a rich athletic tradition, but the sport of volleyball hasn’t been where the Cadets have experienced the most success. Linsly will seek its fourth OVAC title and first since 1995.
But, coach Ashlee Jividen and her youthful squad are only worried about the present.
“The girls were stoked just to be here (Tuesday), so now that we’re going to the finals, it’s tough to even finds the words to describe thast feeling,” Jividen said. “These girls have worked hard every single day and they deserve to be here. I don’t think many people ever thought Linsly would be in the OVAC semifinals, let alone the final.”
To defeat Magnolia, which is the defending West Virginia Class A state champion, Jividen knew exactly what the game plan had to be.
“We know they’re a good team and we knew to be able to beat them, we had to outplay them in serve-receive wise and defensively,” Jividen said. “Our goal is to never let a team get two points in a row, so we’re able to keep our momentum.”
The Cadets jumped on the Blue Eagles (15-7-1), taking the first two sets rather impressively. However, Magnolia showed its resolve and then actually fought off four match points to knot the game at 24 before falling in the fourth.
“It was huge to win the first two sets,” Jividen said. “We wanted to set our tempo and our expectations. I think those things really gave us the confidence.”
Helping to further set the tone and establish the momentum was the hitting of sophomore Charlie Allison. She had 15 kills and numerous blocks.
Mirissa Garchar actually led the Cadets with an impressive 31 kills. She also had four aces. Amanda Thomas, meanwhile donated 41 assists and seven kills.
Magnolia, meanwhile, will go back to work and begin preparations to try to defend their state championship. However, coach Pamela Chapman knows her team has some areas in which they need to sure up.
“We gave away too many points, including the last three of the match,” Chapman said. “We need to continue to work on that.”
The Blue Eagles were led by senior standout Kyndra Pilant, who had 37 kills, five blocks and eight digs. Junior Lenicia Grimm was charted for 37 assists and senior Kayna Anderson was credited with 18 digs. Liza Clegg had five kills.