BIDWELL, Ohio — The skid is over, and not a moment to soon.
The River Valley volleyball team had lost seven straight matches headed into the Division III Sectional Semifinal on Tuesday night in Gallia County, but the eighth-seeded Lady Raiders came away with a straight-game triumph over ninth-seeded Oak Hill.
The Lady Raiders (5-17) trailed early in the opening game, but charged back to take a 7-2 lead. Oak Hill tied the game up six times before finally regaining the lead at 16-14. River Valley outscored the Lady Oaks 11-to-4 over the remainder of the first, and claimed the game by a 25-20 final.
After a pair of lead changes early in the second game, the teams sat tied at 14. RVHS rattled off six straight points and later expanded the lead to 24-17. The Lady Oaks scored six straight points, but the comeback effort was stuffed, as River Valley held on for the 25-23 win.
Oak Hill battled through four ties early third game, but managed to take a 17-11 lead. River Valley came back to take the advantage at 18-17, but the lead was short-lived as the Lady Oaks scored the next four points. Oak Hill was one point away from forcing a fourth game, when the Lady Raiders ratteled off three consecutive points to take a 25-24 advantage. OHHS tied the game at 25, but surrendered back-to-back points, which gave RVHS the third by a 27-25 final and the match by a 3-0 tally.
“It’s really nice to see the girls playing together,” RVHS head coach Denise Toler said. “The pace was a little slow for what I’d like to see, but the girls tend to play at the same pace the opponent is. We had some pretty good hits, the girls were pretty solid with their passing and we recovered some balls that I really didn’t think we could recover.”
RVHS senior Courtney Smith led the Silver and Black with 10 service points including three aces. Alex Truance posted eight points, Ashley Gilmore added seven, while Angel Toler marked five points and three aces. Carly Gilmore and Jessi Steele both had four points, including an ace by Steele, while Jacey Walter finished with three service points.
Walter led River Valley the net with 11 kills, followed by Truance with eight kills and the team’s lone block. Gilmore posted three kills, Steele added two, while Courtney Smith marked one kill and a team-best 18 assists. Truance, Walter and Rachel Horner led the River Valley defense with three digs apiece.
“Block coverage needs worked on before we see Alexander on Saturday,” said Toler. “We took them to four the last time they were here, so I’m looking for a good game. We’ve played them twice already and we’ve played club with them, so I know some of the girls and how they play.”
River Valley will face the top-seeded Lady Spartans in the sectional final, on Saturday in Albany. The Lady Spartans have topped RVHS twice in Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division play this season. First on September 17, in Athens County by a 3-0 final, and for the second time of October 13, in Bidwell by a 3-1 count.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.