STEWART, Ohio — For the Lady Eagles, the third time really is the charm.
The Eastern volleyball team dropped both regular season tilts with Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division foe Federal Hocking, but the Lady Eagles got their revenge Thursday night. The sixth-seeded Green and Gold claimed a 3-1 decision over the third-seeded Lady Lancers in the Division IV Sectional Final, at McInturf Gymnasium.
The Lady Eagles (12-10) never trailed in the opening game of the night, claiming a 25-19 triumph. Eastern led by as many as 10 in the second game and held on for a 25-23 win, moving ahead 2-0 in the match.
Federal Hocking (18-5) fell behind early in the third game, but eventually grabbed the lead at 12-10. The Lady Eagles, who trailed by as many as five in the third, pulled within one point at 23-22. However, the Lady Lancers never relinquished the advantage and claimed the 25-22 win, forcing a fourth game.
After a quartet of lead changes early in the fourth game, FHHS charged out to a 13-7 advantage. Eastern rallied to regain the lead at 16-14 and never looked back, rolling to a 25-18 win and a 3-1 match victory.
“Our gameplan was to pass, handle the ball and block,” third-year EHS head coach Katie Williams said. “I think that we did a pretty good job of that tonight. Our back row bases our defense off of where our blockers are, so when they’re doing their job it makes it so much easier on everybody else. They really stepped up tonight.”
The Lady Eagles were led by junior Katlyn Barber with 18 service points, including two aces. Morgan Baer posted 14 points and one ace, Morgain Little added 11 points and one ace, while Kelsey Johnson finished with seven points and two aces. EHS libero Elayna Bissell had five points and two aces in the win, while Annalisa Boano rounded out the EHS service attack with four points.
At the net Eastern was led by Boano with 19 kills and three blocks, followed by Barber with 10 kills and one block. Kelsey Johnson had nine kills, Mackenzie Brooks added eight kills and six blocks, while Baer had three kills and a match-best 38 assists. The Eastern defense was led by Kelsey Johnson with 18 digs, followed by Boano with 17 and Barber with 14.
Federal Hocking was led by Hannah Dunfee with 14 points, followed by McKenzie Steele with 11 and Paige Watkins with seven. Dunfee and Miranda Scott led FHHS at the net with nine kills each, while Steele had a team-high 20 assists.
Eastern, which returns to the district tournament after a one-year hiatus, will face second-seeded Manchester in the district semifinal on Thursday at Jackson. The Lady Greyhounds defeated Whiteoak in straight games in Thursday’s sectional final.
“That was our whole goal this season,” Williams said of the chance to play at districts. “We came up short a lot in the TVC, but at this point the league doesn’t matter anymore. This is when the cream rises to the top.”
EHS will be making it’s 19th trip the district tournament in the last 20 years.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.