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SVC volleyball ready
to take regional stage
By Shayne Combs, admin1@svcsportszone.com
The Scioto Valley Conference volleyball league has always been good, but this year it has been incredible even by
SVC standards. Five teams have won 15 times with four of them reaching 20-wins on the season.

Every school won at least one tournament match. Six teams captured a sectional title. Half the league made the
district championship, and now three teams are in the Sweet Sixteen. Two of the league schools (Westfall and
Piketon and it will eventually be three because of Adena/SE head-to-head) were eliminated by an SVC foe, and
when the league plays out-of-conference, our teams have won 78-percent of the time. Perhaps this stat bodes well
for Huntington – especially considering the Green and White are 10-0 when playing a non-league opponent in
2016.

As mentioned above, Adena and Southeastern are now forced to meet for a third time. Adena won both regular-
season matches, and now Southeastern is hoping the sports cliché –
It is hard to beat a good team three times in
one season
– proves to be true.

Both teams come at their opponent with a 5-1 offense. Southeastern’s go-to hitter is Ella Skeens, but setter Lauren
Goebel will spread the ball around to Skylar Hice, Jess Bolte, Rachel Collins, and Sierra Delong as well. If
Southeastern can pass well and give Goebel a chance to read the Adena defense, the Lady Panthers do have
some advantages at the net.

For Southeastern, passing with accuracy will be easier said than done, because the Adena attack comes with great
pace. It starts with tough serving from all six spots, and the low, on-point passing from Carly Carroll and Company
usually allows Lanie Shea to setup Devon Putnam and Carissa Poehler with a low, quick set that can often leave
the opponent’s block late to arrive.

I think a big stat in this matchup will be the efficiency of the Southeastern hitters. Southeastern will get its
opportunities, but so many times Adena’s defense can frustrate a hitter and pressure her to become a little
impatient.

As a fan, you hate to see the SVC eliminate one another, but when your conference makes up three of the final 16
remaining; it becomes inevitable that teams will eventually meet. What is intriguing about this Round Three of
Adena and Southeastern is the fact that it is a match-up of a been-there-done-that against the new kid on the
block. For the Lady Warriors, district titles are all but assumed, so in a way Adena’s second season gets started
Thursday night. For Southeastern, the land of the Sweet Sixteen has been unknown for this school for over 20
years, but this cast of Lady Panthers more than belongs on this stage.

Remember when Southeastern was 6-3 coming off of two losses in three nights and were still looking for a
signature win? Well, the reason it is so hard to remember is because since that time, Jimmy Hutton’s SE team has
gone 14-2 with losses only at Adena and at Unioto (crazy five-set thriller) including a win over Unioto and
Wheelersburg as well as avenging losses to Huntington and North Adams. Now at 20-5, this group is locked and
loaded for the biggest stage of the season.

Let’s not forget Adena (20-5) went through plenty of adversity as well. After looking ready for a golden run in the
preseason, an injury to Kelsie Bossert left Adena’s coach, Laura Smith, with a hole in the rotation. Shortly after,
SVC Player of the Year, Devon Putnam, was fighting an injury that left her unable to hit or serve for a brief stretch
of the schedule. Coming off the first-round loss to Unioto, Adena looked a bit overwhelmed, but things would
change in the favor of the two-shade blue.

Unioto lost to Southeastern, and Adena started to get healthy and settled back into a consistent rotation. Bossert
has since returned to the back row, and the Warriors have now won 13 straight matches including an outright SVC
title, a sectional title, and a district championship as well.

Before Adena and Southeastern take the regional stage Thursday night, it will be Huntington in action in the first
match against Tuscarawas Valley. Tusky is no stranger to this stage. No doubt the Lady Trojans present a great
challenge for the Lady Huntsmen, but Coach Magill’s Huntington squad enters with a record of 20-5 and has
certainly been tested. Huntington’s schedule not only has the two matches against Adena, Unioto, and
Southeastern, but also included Alexander, Nelsonville York, Wheelersburg, and North Adams.  In fact, 18 of
Huntington’s 25 matches this season have come against sectional championship teams.

Huntington is led by senior Rikki Magill. Magill has had an amazing career stuffing just about every category of the
stat sheet over the past four seasons. She has improved athletically in the last year becoming an elite hitter to go
with her match-changing serve and overall skill set. Magill’s classmate, Alisha Long, has taken on the role of libero
this season, and the two of them have helped lead an extremely green (no pun intended) team to the regional
tournament.

Sophomores Riley Black and Braiden Collins have had great seasons for Huntington. While playing all-the-way-
around, Black and Collins have done nothing but get better. Black has averaged nearly six assists per set as well
as 0.6 aces, and Collins averages 3.5 digs and has produced around eight kills per match over the last few weeks
of the season.

Well SVC volleyball fans, here we go! Thursday and Saturday at Logan with the hope that one of our trio will punch
a ticket to the Final Four. Last year it was Tusky taking out Adena in a five-set, instant-classic before beating
Westfall. This year Tusky returns with a 24-1 record looking to double-up on the SVC again. It certainly will not be
easy, but what we do know is it is another year where the calendar turns November and several SVC volleyball
programs are preparing to play on a statewide stage – a place the league appears right at home.
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