MERCERVILLE, Ohio — The undersized, and on paper perhaps over-matched, South Gallia Lady Rebels made Miller work just a little bit on Monday night.
But, the taller and visiting Falcons found a way to shake off the doldrums of a long bus ride —and swept South Gallia 25-19, 25-21 and 25-16 in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division volleyball tilt.
The Falcons never trailed in the first two games, and only fell behind by as much as 3-1 in game three, before scoring six consecutive points and never looking back in completing the season sweep.
The only ties were 1-1 and 2-2 in the second set and 1-1 and 3-3 in the last, as South Gallia got as close as 23-21 in the second game, but the Falcons finished things off en route to another 3-0 win.
With the win, Miller raised its record to 13-7 — and to 10-4 in the TVC Hocking.
The Falcons also swept the Lady Rebels in three games three weeks ago on Sept. 18.
For South Gallia, which celebrated Senior Night for five seniors on Monday night, it fell to 3-17 — and to 3-12 in the division.
The Lady Rebels, which traveled to Wahama for Tuesday night’s TVC Hocking finale, remain with Wahama and a season sweep of Belpre for their only three campaign victories.
Dating back to that four-set win over Wahama on Sept. 19, and a four-set triumph over Belpre a week ago, the Lady Rebels have dropped all of their other league matches in the season’s second half — and all unfortunately by 3-0 counts.
The program has also been impacted by the absence of second-year head coach Sarah Shirley, who returned to the team after missing two weeks with a family emergency.
Shirley spoke highly of her five seniors, whom she has coached for all four years.
Shirley served as the two-year junior varsity mentor before being promoted to head coach, and is also the softball boss at SGHS.
The senior fivesome consists of Olivia Hornsby, Erin Evans, Hannah Shafer, Aaliyah Howell and libero Keirsten Howell.
“I am extremely proud of each and every senior on this team. They are tremendous athletes and they will definitely be missed. We love them all, every last one of them,” said Shirley. “I’ve had them in class and in one sport or another for four years. They are my first group of freshmen all the way through. They are very special to me, so this is hard.”
As for the match itself, Haille Joseph served for the opening six points in the opening game, as Miller mustered leads as large as 18-9 and 22-13.
The Rebels remained within striking distance, though, trailing by four points five times at 8-4, 12-8, 13-9, 22-18 and finally 23-19.
But a South Gallia service error and a four-hit call on the Lady Rebels ended game one — and the early comeback bid.
In game two, the Falcons gained a sideout on an attack error to take a 3-2 advantage, then libero Lacey Alexander —with five straight service points including three of her match-high five aces — increased Miller’s cushion to 8-2.
Miller maintained a lead from there, ranging from three (11-8, 15-12 and 20-17) to seven (10-3, 11-4 and 20-13) points three times, before the Rebels rallied to within 23-21 on three consecutive Falcon hitting errors and a kill by Aaliyah Howell.
But a key kill by Josie Crabtree and a Rebel hitting error clinched the second game for the Falcons — and a 2-0 lead.
Miller then led 1-0 in game three before the Rebels reeled off three straight points, but bookend kills by Olivia Houk highlighted the six-straight spree, and South Gallia got only as close as 8-6 the rest of the way.
After a Brooklyn Wilson kill made it 9-6 for the Falcons, Houk had five straight service points — and Miller’s lead soon swelled to 10 three times (19-9, 21-11 and 22-12).
The Lady Rebels got only as close as 22-15 and 23-16, but another Wilson kill forced match point — and Shirley substituting out for the five seniors to a nice round of applause.
Wilson, with an ace, ended the match.
Houk had a dozen kills and Crabtree chipped in 10, as Josie Perani set for all but one of the Falcons’ 32 assists.
Alexander added a match-high 20 digs to her five aces, as Crabtree contributed 12 and Houk nine.
Wilson and Ryleigh Newman notched six kills apiece.
Evans and Rachal Colburn collected four kills and an ace apiece to lead the Lady Rebels, as sophomore middle hitter Christine Griffith racked up four kills, three blocks and a pair of aces.
Hornsby had three kills, while Shafer and Aaliyah Howell had two apiece.
The Rebels’ regular season concludes on Wednesday night at rival River Valley.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106