CHILLICOTHE — The Washington Lady Blue Lions knew the challenge ahead of them when they traveled to Unioto High School Saturday to take on the No. 1 seeded Lady Shermans on their home court.
At stake was the continuation of the season and a trip to the Division II District tournament.
The Lady Lions came out fired up and ready to go.
However, it seemed that whatever Washington did or attempted to do to gain the advantage, Unioto more often than not had the answer.
Unioto took the win in three games, 25-15, 25-18 and 25-19.
The Lady Shermans, now 21-3 on the season, will face Athens next in the District semifinals Wedneday at 6 p.m. at Ross Southeastern High School.
Athens advanced by defeating Marietta, 3-0 on Saturday.
In the other District semifinal, it will be Gallia Academy taking on Circleville Wednesday following the Unioto-Athens match.
Gallia Academy defeated SCOL champion Chillicothe, in a tough, five-set match, 3-2.
Scores of the games were: 25-19, 25-12, 22-25, 23-25 and 15-10.
Circleville moved along in the tournament with a 3-2 win over its close rival, Logan Elm. Scores of the games were: 25-13, 22-25, 19-25, 25-18 and 15-12.
Washington ends the 2015 season as runners-up in the SCOL (with a record of 12-2) and an overall record of 14-10.
In the first game, Unioto held the lead throughout.
It was 5-0 to start, before Washington could get on the board.
The Lady Lions fought back to pull to within one point at 7-6 and 9-8.
Unioto then scored seven of the next eight points to increase their lead to 16-9.
The Lady Shermans kept a lead of six to 10 points on their way to a 25-15 win in the opening game.
Washington took an early 2-0 lead in the second game.
Unioto then went on a run pulling in front 8-3.
Washington tied the score, 8-8 and took a 10-9 lead on an ace serve from Jaycie McRoberts.
This game stayed close with the score tied four more times as play unfolded.
Washington could not quite seem to get the breakthrough it needed, and Unioto never trailed.
A little more daylight emerged between the two teams until Unioto took the second game, 25-18.
The match continued to play out in similar fashion in the third and what proved to be deciding game.
Unioto scored the first two points of the game and never surrendered the lead.
The game was tied, 3-3 and Washington stayed within one or two points until the Lady Lions scrapped to within one point, 14-13 with a three-point run that forced Unioto to call timeout.
Whatever coach Aaron Ridenour said to his team, Unioto proceeded to score seven points after that break.
The Lady Lions fell behind by as many as six points (21-15) and pulled as close as 21-19 before a final timeout by Unioto.
The Lady Shermans scored the final four points for the 25-19 win to secure the match.
“We are going to miss our four seniors,” Washington head coach DeAtley said. “We have setter Megan Mullins, outside hitter Jaycie McRoberts, back row Brooklyn Wilson and right-side hitter, Maria Wilson.
“They all bring a piece of the game that we’re really going to have to step up and step into,” DeAtley said. “My girls have big shoes to fill coming up next year.
“I’m very proud of my girls,” DeAtley said. “They were kind of the underdogs in here. They were (very excited) to play coming in.
“We knew there was a chance today that this could be our last time on the court,” DeAtley said. “We’ve been cherishing each memory that we had in our last practice and our last game together. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than for the girls to play with their hearts and that’s what they did today.
“They run a rotation defense that our girls are not used to,” DeAtley said of Unioto. “Our usual shots that work just didn’t work today because there was someone there. The girls were getting a little flustered because the hitting was a little off at times.
“We came alive, but, it was just too late,” DeAtley said. “They’re a great blocking team. They got hands on every single ball that we hit. Their blocking at the net really threw us off. And, we did miss quite a few serves.”
DeAtley was asked about the season and about the streak of 11 consecutive SCOL titles that was broken by Chillicothe.
“One thing I’ve learned from former coaches is, every year is a new year,” DeAtley said. “Every team is different. Every year, you’ve got a target on your back. When you’ve had that many wins, we had targets on our backs.
“Chillicothe was definitely coming for us, since the beginning,” DeAtley said. “When I first met (Chillicothe head coach Greg Tracey), he asked me, ‘how’s your team look this year?’ I said, ‘good, I like them a lot’. He said, ‘well, we’re coming after you.’
“You want that mentality from the other teams,” DeAtley said. “You want to make sure you’re fighting for what’s yours. The league is more competitive than what it used to be and I think it’s only going to get better. So, the loss of the title, was kind of like, well, we’ll get it next year. We’ve got another chance next year.
“These things aren’t guaranteed and I don’t like things given to us,” DeAtley said. “I’m glad we had the chance to battle back and we have that competition to look forward to over the next few years.”
“Our hitting was very balanced,” Unioto head coach Aaron Ridenour said. “We have five hitters we can get the ball to at any time. That’s a good thing for us. And our serving was pretty tough today.
“After that first set, I thought Washington Court House definitely played pretty well and gave us a good battle there those last two sets,” Ridenour said.
This was the fifth Sectional title in a row for Unioto under Ridenour, who is now in his 9th season coaching at UHS.
Statistically for Washington
Serving: Madalyn Wayne, 2 aces; Jaycie McRoberts, 1 ace; Maria Wilson, 1 ace.
Attacks: Jaycie McRoberts, 6 kills out of 27 attempts; Faith Kobel, 5 kills out of 18 attempts; Hannah Haithcock, 5 kills out of 20 attempts.
Blocks: Megan Mullins, 4 assists, 1 solo; Faith Kobel, 4 assists, 3 solo; Victoria Jones, 3 assists, 1 solo.
Digs: Haley Maxie, 15; Maria Wilson, 5; Jaycie McRoberts, 10; Brooklyn Wilson, 5.
Setting: Megan Mullins, 12 assists, 50 sets.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1