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Buckeye Trail outlasts perennial power Tusky Valley in five

MORRISTOWN — Buckeye Trail’s volleyball team is quickly gaining a fondness for Union Local High School’s “The Hangar.”

For the third time in a week, the Warriors pocketed a victory inside the venerable gym, the latest being the most thrilling.

Sam Canner jump-started things in the fifth set Tuesday night as No. 6 seed Buckeye Trail rallied for 25-23, 19-25, 25-27, 28-26, 15-11 victory against No. 3 seed Tusky Valley in an Ohio Division III sectional semifinal.

The victory sets up a rematch of last week’s OVAC 3A semifinal against Union Local, won by the Warriors in five sets. Buckeye Trail, which won the OVAC title against Linsly on Saturday, and the No. 2 seed Jets (22-1) will lock horns again at 6 Thursday night at, where else, Union Local High School. The winner moves on to district action next week.

“I love this place,” Wendy McVicker, Buckeye Trail’s second-year head coach exclaimed after the victory, her team’s 17th of the season against six defeats.

“The girls have played great all season in the fifth set. We got to the fifth and I told them that this is what we’ve been working for all year. You love the fifth set. Go get it. Five points at a time.”

The first four came quickly thanks to Canner. Canner, who’ll suit up for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers next fall, exerted her will on the Trojans by using power and finesse to give her team an early cushion.

On a night which she recorded her 1,234th career kill — a program record — Canner came up big at just the right moment, which didn’t surprise McVicker.

“She pounded the ball,” she said of Canner, who finished with 30 kills, 14 points, 17 digs and was 21 of 22 serving.

“And, everyone else did so well covering behind her — covering the back, getting great passes to set up the setter so we could run that stuff. If you don’t have great passes, you don’t get any of that stuff.

“Everyone did their job — hard serves, perfect sets, sets were perfect.”

The Warriors opened the night with a slim victory, then watched Tusky Valley even the match a set later.

In the third, the Trojans built what looked like an insurmountable 22-13 lead. But Buckeye Trail scored 11 of the next 13 points to gain a 24-24 tie. From there, the set was tied once more before Tusky Valley prevailed.

While some teams might have wilted after seeing a comeback come up short, McVicker said it fueled her girls.

“That’s a credit to these girls because we’ve done that several times this year,” she said. “We have kind of been talking all season that our nerves have been pretty good through the stress.”

The fourth set provided more teeth-clenching moments. Trail jumped ahead 3-1 needing to win before the Trojans stormed back to lead 5-4. From there, there were nine ties, the last being at 21-21.

Tusky Valley went up 23-21, but, with Canner’s help, the Warriors forged another 24-24 deadlock. This time, Trail prevailed to force the take-all fifth.

Sidney Beaver added nine points, 16 digs and 31 assists for the Warriors, while Ava Tank scored 12 points and Madison King recorded 18 digs and 13 kills.

“The played confident, aggressive and excited,” McVicker said. “In the end, the one thing I love about this team is they don’t get scared. In the end, they focused. That’s what happened in the fifth set this time.”

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