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Shadyside dispatches Monroe Central in 4

MONROE CENTRAL’S Abby Thompson hits as Shadyside’s Paige Gorby (left) and Gentry Brown (right) prepare to block during Thursday’s Division IV sectional co-final at Shadyside. The Tigers won in four sets to advance to the district for the sixth straight season.

SHADYSIDE — Monroe Central and Shadyside split their two regular-season meetings with each winning the other’s home court.

The stakes were slightly higher in Thursday’s rubber match as a berth in the Division IV Eastern District semifinal was on the line.

This time around, the Tigers were able to protect the home court and clinch their sixth consecutive trip to the district by virtue of a 25-18, 25-22, 20-25 and 25-19 victory over the Seminoles.

“We came ready to play and started strong,” Shadyside head coach Eric Mercer said. “We’re excited (about the district), we’ll play anywhere. We’ll be ready to play.”

The Tigers return to action on Wednesday at Harrison Central against Strasburg, which thwarted any thoughts of a rematch of the OVAC 2A match by toppling Caldwell in five sets.

Mercer wasn’t at all worried or thinking about the district because he knew what kind of squad the Seminoles had.

“We certainly enjoy playing a good opponent like (Monroe Central),” Mercer said. “You see someone three times in a season, there are no surprises. Mentally, you can’t back off or assume they’re going to give it you because they’re not.”

While the Tigers are returning to practice today, first-year Monroe Central head coach Jeannette Schwall must bid farewell to a five-member senior class after a strong 15-8 season.

“I felt like we were resilient again and I believe we are as good as any team we played this season,” Schwall said. “All things have to come to an end. Give credit to Shadyside. We knew it was going be tough coming in.”

The Tigers were pretty much in control of the entire first set, but Schwall pointed to the second set where Monroe Central may have let an opportunity to knot the match slip away.

“I felt like the second game was ours to take, but some things didn’t go our way,” Schwall said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get that second game.”

Once Shadyside got the lead in the second set, it was time for junior Gentry Brown to deliver some big swings, which she seemingly loves to do. Brown was a hitting machine against the Seminoles, delivering hard hit after hard hit en route to 23 kills. She also had 12 digs.

Senior Paige Gorby was impressive once again with eight kills, five blocks and 11 digs. Senior Carolina Mercer handed out 38 assists, posted eight digs and four kills. Sophomore Macy Hendershot was also impressive, recording six kills and three blocks.

Janelle Greenwood posted eight digs and three aces. Kayla Kryah had eight digs.

“We knew what we had to do and we knew what we liked to do, but they had a few new wrinkles we didn’t respond to well,” Mercer said. “I thought our defense was great, we got to a lot of balls, made a lot of close plays and we still need to be cleaner as the competition gets tougher and tougher.”

Monroe Central, meanwhile, was led by Trista Morris, who had 12 kills and 18 digs. Kynzi Bishop had seven kills, seven points and a block. Kyra English had seven assists, nine points and seven digs. Olivia Valkovic had five assists. Karlie Haslam had four aces. Senior Kalista Friday posted an impressive 36 digs.

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