JACKSON, Ohio — The Lady Titans were the top-seeded team for a reason.
The Southern volleyball team had its remarkable 2016 campaign come to an end Saturday afternoon following a 25-12, 25-21, 25-11 setback to Portsmouth Notre Dame in a Division IV district championship match at Jackson High School in the Apple City.
The second-seeded Lady Tornadoes (21-3) — who shared the TVC Hocking title with Waterford this fall — never led in the straight-game setback and trailed by at least nine points in each of the three contests.
The Lady Titans (24-1) jumped out to early leads of 3-0 and 12-4 in Game 1, then rolled on to a trio of 13-point leads en route to securing a 1-0 match lead.
The only tie of the match came in Game 2 at one-all, but Notre Dame responded by reeling off eight straight points for a 9-1 edge.
SHS trailed 19-10, but rallied back to within 23-21 before ultimately dropping the final two points — giving PND a four-point win and a 2-0 match advantage.
Notre Dame secured early leads of 6-1 and 10-4, but the Lady Tornadoes battled back to within five points on three separate occasions — the last of which came 12-7.
The Lady Titans countered with nine of the next 10 points to secure a 21-8 edge, then traded points the rest of the way to wrap up the 3-0 match triumph.
It was a tough way to end what was otherwise a near-perfect season under first-year coach Kim Hupp. But, as Hupp noted afterwards, those are the teams you face at this level — and one loss in your first district final in 18 years doesn’t diminish what you’ve done in getting to this point.
“I told the girls that when they leave here tonight, they have all kinds of things to be proud of. A 21-win season, a share of a league title and a sectional title are very big accomplishments, plus they have made it as far as any other team to ever play at Southern,” Hupp said. “They’ve worked very hard for what they’ve earned, plus they had to adjust to a new coach and a somewhat new philosophy. In all reality, they have exceeded expectations this year.
“We lost nine seniors from the program last year, so these 11 seniors had a lot to prove this season. They’ve been great leaders and a great group to work with. I hate to see them go, but they have absolutely nothing to be disappointed about.”
Amanda Cole led the Southern service attack with seven points, followed by Talon Drummer with three points. Sierra Cleland, Marissa Johnson and Macie Michael also had a service point each in the setback.
Cleland led the net attack with six kills, followed by Cole with five kills and three blocks. Faith Teaford also had three kills and three blocks, while Kamryn Smith added three kills as well.
Marlee Maynard also led SHS with 13 assists and had two kills. Michael also had two kills in the setback.
Emma Monroe paced Notre Dame with 20 service points, followed by Sophia Hassel with eight points and Hagen Schaefer with seven points. Lexi Smith was next with four points, while Ali Smith and Clara Hash respectively added two points and one point.
It was the final game for seniors Marissa Johnson, Kamryn Smith, Amanda Cole, Marlee Maynard, Sara Schenkelberg, Haley Musser, Katie Barton, Faith Teaford, Sierra Cleland, Macie Michael and Talon Drummer in the Purple and Gold.
Southern went 15-1 in TVC Hocking play, which included a split with Waterford. The Lady Tornades were playing in their first district championship match since 1998.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.