BIDWELL, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Raiders, their errors seemed to snowball on Tuesday night.
As a result, River Valley will next return to the volleyball court following the winter.
In an anticipated five-full games marathon match, the Oak Hill Lady Oaks outlasted host River Valley 23-25, 25-20, 25-20, 22-25 and 15-9 in a Division III sectional semifinal tilt.
In a battle of evenly-matched clubs, eighth-seeded River Valley and ninth-seeded Oak Hill went toe-to-toe for close two hours, trading leads and point-spurts — with the Oaks forcing a third set and the Raiders forcing a fifth game.
And, it was that decisive fifth set that the Lady Raiders let get away, as they led 3-1 before the Oaks outscored them 14-6 the rest of the way.
With the loss, River Valley ends its season at 2-20, while Oak Hill — which will travel to top-seeded Alexander on Saturday for the sectional championship — is now 3-20.
Megan Edwards, completing her first season as River Valley volleyball coach, admitted errors have been her squad’s downfall in matches all year.
“Once we make one or two errors, it kind of snowballs,” said Edwards. “It’s like quicksand. One or two turns into a few of them and it’s hard to get ourselves back from that.”
The Raiders did rally on two occasions — in games one and four.
Oak Hill had the opening three points in the first set, but the Raiders reversed the margin into leads as large as 20-11 and 21-12.
River Valley, despite the Oaks outscoring it 11-4 from there, captured the first game on a Carley Gilmore kill.
In the next two games, the Raiders held slim leads early on, but the Oaks overcame those deficits — and posted a pair of 25-20 triumphs.
In the fourth game, River Valley led the entire set except at 13-12 and 14-13, as the game stood tied at 10-10, 12-12, 13-13, 14-14, 15-15, 16-16, 20-20 and 21-21.
By scoring four of the final five points, including Cierra Roberts’ ace for the final marker, the Raiders had momentum going into game five.
However, River Valley’s 3-1 edge in game five soon turned into a 6-3 deficit, thanks to the Oaks reeling off five points in a row.
An Oak Hill service error and an Isabella Mershon ace got the Raiders tied at 7-7, but their only other points from there were a net violation and an attack error.
“With the short game to 15 (in game five), we had errors and Oak Hill had some nice kills and we just weren’t able to bring it back in time,” said Edwards. “I felt for sure and the girls felt for sure we could pull off that fifth game, but a couple of mistakes here and there, and we lost ourselves all in it.”
The Lady Oaks were paced by 10 kills and six digs by Carlee Dempsey and Caitlyn Brisker, as Dempsey delivered three blocks and Brisker tallied one.
Taylor Ross recorded nine kills and Abby Meldick managed five, as the setter Meldick was also the leader in assists.
Gilmore garnered a match-high 14 kills and six blocks, as River Valley had 26 kills as an entire team.
Angel Toler set for 28 assists, as Gilmore, Toler and Mershon served up four aces apiece.
Tuesday’s tilt was the final match for five RVHS seniors: Toler, Brianna McGuire, Jessica Steele, Destiny Williams and Emily Adkins.
“It was a good season to come in but it was also a building season,” said Edwards. “We’re losing a lot of experience with the five seniors, but we have five or six juniors coming back next year. We’ll have more experience next year.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106