The Miami Trace Panthers hosted the Waverly Tigers for a Division II Sectional championship volleyball match at Miami Trace High School Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022.
Waverly won the match, three sets to one.
Scores of the sets were: 25-13, 18-25, 25-23 and 25-22.
Waverly moves on to play in the District tournament Monday, Oct. 24.
Miami Trace ends a very fine season with a record of 17-5, having won the Frontier Athletic Conference championship, going 10-0.
It was a slow start to the match for Miami Trace.
The Lady Panthers scored the first point of the match. However, after the score was tied, 1-1, Waverly led the rest of the way to post a 25-13 first set victory.
Miami Trace took the lead in the second set at 7-6 and went on from there to tie the match, 25-18.
A kill by Courtney Carter ended the second set in favor of Miami Trace.
From this point forward, the match was much closer.
Early in the third set, Waverly senior Kelli Stewart recorded her 1,000th career kill. Play was halted for a couple of moments so she could be duly recognized.
This set was tied 13 times.
Miami Trace took its first lead of the set at 9-8.
The Panthers seemed to pick up some momentum and led by as many as six points at 16-10.
Waverly clawed back and tied the score, 17-17.
The lead changed hands five times from that juncture.
Miami Trace led, 18-17 and Waverly led, 19-18.
Miami Trace took a 20-19 lead, only to have Waverly regain the advantage, 21-10.
The Panthers led 22-21, but again Waverly responded.
The match was tied at 22 and again at 23 before Waverly got the 25-23 win to go up two sets to one.
The objective from that point was crystal clear: Miami Trace had to win the fourth set to get to the deciding fifth set.
It was a promising start for the Panthers, as they led 4-0 and 6-1.
After a Waverly time out, Miami Trace increased its lead to 8-2.
From there, Waverly scored nine unanswered points to go in front, 11-8.
Miami Trace showed grit and determination, leading 12-11 and 13-12.
Waverly went back in front at 14-13 and led the remainder of the set.
Miami Trace trailed twice by three points and once by four points (21-17), but still kept battling.
The Panthers scored three straight points to pull to within one, 21-20, causing Waverly to call time out.
The next two points were won by Waverly, making the score 23-20.
Miami Trace kept hanging in and kept the ball in play, pulling to within one at 23-22.
That was as close as they would get, however, as Waverly took the final two points to secure the match win and a trip to the District tournament.
Waverly ended Miami Trace’s season much sooner than the Panthers expected, but no one can take away the outstanding season they enjoyed, especially the previously-mentioned 10-0 conference championship.
Miami Trace now says thank you and good-bye to its seven seniors: Courtney Carter, Averey Cockerill, Sara Dawson, Gracey Ferguson, McKinley Kelley, Sophia Parsons and Mary Pfeifer.
“In the first set, they beat us comfortably,” Miami Trace head coach Doug Mace said. “They were in control the whole time.
“In the second set, we turned right around and did that to them,” Mace said. “We were in control most of the time in that second set.
“In the third and fourth, it went back and forth,” Mace said. “In the third and fourth, both teams were playing really hard. Both teams were playing scrappy ball; both sides were popping balls up that were really nice saves.
“I think what it came down to was errors,” Mace said. “Whoever made the least amount of errors was going to win those sets close like that. We made a few errors at inopportune times, especially that last third or fourth of the (fourth set). When it’s 21-20, that’s not the time to have a communication issue.
“You can survive those in the front half of the game, but in the latter third of the game, when both teams are fairly equal, it comes down to who makes the least amount of mistakes,” Mace said. “In the third and fourth games, that’s basically what I felt hurt us. It was tough to overcome.”
Mace gave credit to the visiting Tigers.
“They played really tough,” Mace said. “We knew going in that they would be tough. They have some really nice kids. We played them earlier in the season (Aug. 22) and we were lucky to beat them in four.
“Our kids played really hard,” Mace said. “It wasn’t that it was a lack of effort or anything like that. Mostly it came down to our making some errors at the wrong time that were hard to overcome with the score being that tight.
“We let the girls know that we were proud of the way they fought,” Mace said. “We kept playing right to the very end. It didn’t go our way and for the seniors, that’s always tough. This was their last game. Every team except for one in the state of Ohio will have that same feeling.”
The school’s all-time leader in set assists with over 2,000, Gracey Ferguson, had 44 more to add to that record Wednesday.
Addyson Butts had 16 kills, Courtney Carter had 13 and Sophia Parsons had 11. Lauren Farrens had four kills.
Several players had one or two ace serves, Mace said.
“We’re proud of the girls and proud of the way they played this year,” Mace said.