Washington and Pacific slugged it out for the right to face the two-time defending state champions in the Class 4 District 3 Volleyball Tournament at Northwest High School.
After two competitive games, the fourth-seeded Lady Jays prevailed Tuesday over the fifth-seeded Lady Indians, 25-23, 26-24.
Washington (15-16-1) lost to top-seeded Lafayette Wednesday in the semifinals, 25-7, 25-15.
The Lancers (33-1-1) defeated second-seeded Eureka (16-11-3) in the championship match, 25-7, 25-11.
Washington advanced to the semifinals with a win over Pacific.
“When you have the fourth and fifth seeds playing, that’s exactly how the game should have gone,” said Washington Head Coach Kym Blankenship. “I give Pacific a lot of credit. They are scrappy. It is so hard to get a ball down on them.”
It was a highly competitive match between the two Franklin County schools in the district tournament.
“All three of our matches against Washington this season came down to who was going to make the fewest mistakes. This time, we made too many little mistakes,” said Pacific Head Coach Janel Brown. “Washington did a nice job of blocking our outside attacks. We did adjust and started hitting the line shot, which helped us score points.”
Pacific (12-14-1) led 24-21 in the second game, but couldn’t close it out.
“Washington started running a slide attack, which we did not defend well. Our defense had played fairly strong in set two, but at crunch time, we were not in the correct spot to make a good pass,” Brown said. “We missed a key serve after Washington called a timeout, which hurt. We had the momentum up until that missed served.”
Jenna Barnhart collected seven kills and five digs for the Lady Jays. Kara Herron and Andrea Zoellner both added four kills.
Olivia Strode finished with three kills and 10 digs. Sarah Borgerding added three kills and one ace. Amanda Vollmer had two kills.
Emily Voss registered 12 assists and three digs. Paige Carpenter had nine assists, one dig and one ace.
Erica Diener finished with 22 digs and one ace.
“I told the girls that we had to have the desire to win in two because we did not want to play three games with these guys,” Blankenship said. “We have to beat the teams we can beat, and we were able to do that. It’s nice to have Pacific in our district. They’re a good program.”
In her final match at Pacific, senior Ashley Hill collected 17 digs and six kills.
Ellen Rogers added 17 digs, one kill and one block. Gabriella Sauvage had 19 assists, two blocks and one dig. Kate Cookson finished with seven kills, four digs and one ace.
Cailley Bausch had eight digs and one ace. Madyson Bastean connected for four kills and two digs. Brigid Toney had two kills and one dig. Charla Jackson added three digs.
“Overall, we had a good season. The girls played hard and always gave their best. I never felt like they gave up on the team. This group is always very competitive and was competitive in all our matches,” Brown said. “We had our ups and downs, but we always learned from our mistakes and improved. We played in the semifinals of the Hermann Tournament, which was a surprise to me. At times, this team exceeded my expectations.”
Ashley Whitmore and Hill are Pacific’s two seniors.
“Ashley Hill and Ashley Whitmore will be missed. Hill has been on varsity for four years and has given this team so much. She was our strongest player at times and our leader,” Brown said. “Whitmore was hurt most of the season, but she came back strong and did a nice job of serving for the team.”
Washington’s performance against Lafayette improved throughout the match.
“We doubled our score from the first game to the second game. One of my goals was to get them to take a timeout, which they did. We had to let the fear come in, settle in and then leave, and I think that’s what the first game was all about,” Blankenship said. “We’ve never seen that caliber of hitting before. Their serves were harder than anything we’ve ever seen. Just getting over the shock of the intensity of that team was the challenge. I told the girls to embrace the fear, and then let it go. We couldn’t back down.”
The Lady Jays trailed 20-15 in the second game.
“When we hit the ball, they didn’t dig it all the time. We got some touches on the block,” Blankenship said. “A couple of errors crept in like missing serves and touching the net, but overall, I’m happy that we didn’t back down in the second game. There’s a lot of fight in our girls.”
Diener collected eight digs and one kill. Vollmer added three digs and two kills. Zoellner had two kills and two digs. Herron had two kills and Barnhart added one.
Rachel Meyer finished with two digs. Kelly Gauzy had one dig.
Voss finished with five assists and one dig. Carpenter had one assist.
“Erica played her tail off. She’s been our rock this year. I can always count on the same caliber of play from her,” Blankenship said. “Tonight, she got touches that I truly believe a lot of girls on other teams wouldn’t have. She did an amazing job. She was fearless. Once our offense backed her up,we got something going in the second game.”
Washington’s six seniors are Jessica Hamlett, Rachel Meyer, Kelly Gauzy, Herron, Strode and Diener.
“We have six seniors, and I’ll miss all of them. They are amazing kids,” Blankenship said. “This is the best group I’ve coached in a long time. They’re hard workers and extremely coachable. They want to get better. A coach can’t ask for more. I really think we got the best out of them this year. The parents have been wonderful. It’s been a very rewarding season.”