CHILLICOTHE — The Washington Lady Blue Lions had a tough opponent in the Division II volleyball Sectional championship game Saturday afternoon in the Unioto Sherman Tanks.
Unioto won the match, 3-0.
Scores of the sets were: 25-7, 25-13 and 25-13.
Washington led briefly in the first set, 3-1.
The rest of the match belonged to Unioto.
Washington trailed, 5-4, but Unioto scored nine straight points to take a 14-4 lead.
Unioto outscored Washington, 11-3 the rest of the way to win the first set, 25-7.
Washington trailed twice by two points early in the second set, only to see Unioto pull away for a 25-13 victory.
The scoring and the way the third set unfolded was similar to the second set.
The Lady Lions stayed close for a while, but Unioto was able to pull away for a 25-13 victory to claim the match.
The Sectional championship is the sixth in a row for Unioto.
Unioto will take on No. 1 seed Gallia Academy in the District semifinals at Southeastern High School Wednesday at 7 p.m. Gallia Academy beat Marietta Saturday, 3-0.
In the other District semifinal Wednesday, the No. 1 seed Logan Elm will take on Athens at 6 p.m.
Logan Elm beat Circleville, 3-0 and Athens beat Chillicothe, 3-1 on Saturday to fill out the District bracket.
“Unioto is a very good team,” Washington head coach Ashley DeAtley said. “We weren’t able to establish a rhythm today. We played them earlier this season and they are a great, fundamentally sound team. They have a strong program, a great program here.
“We lost to them 2-0 in the Unioto tournament,” DeAtley said. “We knew what they would be doing. We knew they have big hitters. They were hitting right over the top of us and they were smart about it. They just found the holes. So, hat’s off the them; great job.”
DeAtley spoke a bit about the 2016 season. Washington finishes 12-10 overall. The Lady Lions went 10-4 in the SCOL, placing third.
“We knew we were capable of a lot,” DeAtley said. “But, at times we struggled with our mental game. That’s something that we’re definitely going to have to work to improve on for next year.
“I was proud of my girls,” DeAtley said. “We fought back after a long week of practice. Today, I didn’t see the fight like I saw from them all year. That was a little disappointing.”
Washington says thank you and farewell to seven seniors: Susanna Eckstein, Victoria Jones, Miranda Landis, Haley Maxie, Jazzy Robinette and Madalyn Wayne and statistician Cayleigh Matson.
“All of those girls have been the heart of our program,” DeAtley said. “They have a real love for volleyball. They were always willing to do whatever I asked them to. I wish them good luck in their future.”
For the Lady Lions, Hannah Haithcock and Haley Maxie were named First Team, All-SCOL for 2016. Victoria Jones was named Second Team, All-SCOL.
Unioto improves to a very fine 21-3 on the season.
In the coaches poll, Unioto was not ranked, according to head coach Aaron Ridenour. In the Max Preps poll, Unioto is No. 5 in the State in Division II.
Ridenour was asked what makes his team so tough.
“A lot of teams can only go to one or two hitters,” Ridenour said. “We have five hitters. We have five hitters that have over 150 kills apiece. We go to all of our hitters and all of them can kill the ball. Our opponents can’t get used to one hitter and key on them. That’s been our key. We’ve been very efficient in killing the ball.”
Last year, Unioto lost in the first round of the Districts to Athens. Athens went all the way to the Regional finals in the tournament last year, Ridenour noted.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1