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Buckeye Trail wins 3A championship vs. Linsly

MORRISTOWN — Buckeye Trail is back on top of the OVAC mountain.

After a one-year hiatus, the Warriors returned to a familiar spot Saturday, sweeping Linsly in the Class 3A championship match 25-18, 25-10, 25-22 to cap the day’s action inside “The Hangar” at Union Local High School.

“One of our goals this year was to qualify for the OVAC Tournament because we didn’t last year,” Warriors head coach Wendy McVicker said. “That was a big thing for us.”

Buckeye Trail claimed its conference-best 18th title and gave McVicker, who took over for Hall of Fame mentor Jeff Beros two years ago, her first. The Warriors entered the tournament seeded fourth and took out top-seeded, and unbeaten, Union Local in the semis before dispatching the No. 3 seed Cadets.

McVicker and her fellow coaches sported shirts emblazoned with the slogan “We Came, and We Will.” The Warriors did what they set out to do behind stellar efforts from a handful of players, just like McVicker said they had all season in compiling a mark of 16-6.

“It takes a whole team,” she said. “It takes everyone.”

Guided by Western Kentucky signee Sam Canner, Buckeye Trail jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the opening set, only to watch the Cadets eventually tie things at 12-12.

The Warriors responded with a 5-0 run keyed by two points from Madison King, who finished with 14 points, seven digs, six kills, five blocks and five aces.

Linsly scored two straight points following a time out. But, after calling her own stoppage sensing the Cadets were garnering some momentum, McVicker watched her team score four of the next five points to grab a 21-15 advantage.

The Warriors’ cruised in the second set, one that saw setter Sidney Beaver record her 1,000th career assist. McVicker said Beaver was out for three weeks before returning Monday.

“We trained two other girls (Joley Wildes and Gabby Hughes) to come in and that just made our team stronger,” McVicker explained. “We had five matches this week and we had her back for all of them.”

Despite being down two sets, Linsly stayed resilient in the third. Down 5-0, the Cadets rallied to tie the score at 6-6. The score was tied two more times before Linsly’s Mirisaa Garchar gave the Cadets a 13-12 lead.

Linsly built its lead to 16-12 before the Warriors mounted a comeback that saw the score knotted three more times — at 17, 19 and 20.

From there, Buckeye Trail scored four straight en route to securing the title.

“They hustled,” Linsly head coach Ashlee Jividen said of her team. “They played hard.”

Jividen pointed to Canner as a catalyst for the Warriors’ success. The senior finished with 12 kills, 10 digs and seven blocks.

“She gave them a lot of momentum,” she said. “We knew coming in they had her. She’s amazing.”

Garchar finished with 10 points and 10 kills for the Cadets (15-7). Charlie Allison added 13 points and 10 kills, while Amanda Thomas registered 15 assists.

A large contingent was on hand supporting the Cadets, including one fan holding the OVAC championship banner from the 1995 team, which was the last time Linsly was in the OVAC Tournament. Although her team came up short, Jividen was proud of what her team accomplished this fall, especially putting Linsly back on the local volleyball map.

“The fact we made the finals was huge,” she said. “It sets the expectations for Linsly volleyball higher. I think now, for the younger girls, they know what to expect.”

McVicker’s players already know what to expect. Most of her players have been through the battles. In fact, the Warriors played two matches Saturday, the first being a two-set victory Saturday morning in the IVC Showcase.

“A lot of (the girls) play club, so they’re used to playing two, three, four matches in a day,” McVicker said. “They just seemed to get better as the day went on.”

Beaver finished with 12 points and 23 assists, while Ava Tank scored nine points.

The Warriors return to UL on Wednesday, opening Ohio Division III sectional tournament play against Tusky Valley. That match follows the opener pitting the host Jets against Barnesville.

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