The No. 8 seed Miami Trace Lady Panthers hosted the No. 9 seed Unioto Tanks in a Division II Sectional semifinal volleyball match Monday, Oct. 18.
It was a promising start for Miami Trace, as they captured the first set.
However, Unioto battled back and the match went five sets, with the Tanks winning, three sets to two.
Scores of the sets were: 25-22, 23-25, 24-26, 25-21 and 7-15.
Unioto led in the early going of the first set, 6-5.
Miami Trace came back to take a 9-7 lead.
The two teams traded the lead twice as the first set evolved.
Unioto led, 10-9 and Miami Trace came back to lead, 14-13.
Unioto led 22-19 but following a well-placed timeout by Miami Trace, the Lady Panthers fought back to secure the initial set, 25-22 with a serve by Gracey Ferguson and a kill by Courtney Carter.
In the second set, the teams traded the lead three times.
Unioto led from 8-7 onward and led four times by as many as five points.
Miami Trace tied the set, 20-20 with an ace serve by Addyson Butts.
The Lady Panthers tied the set again, 23-23 before Unioto notched the next two points to level the match, one set all, winning 25-23.
With the match tied, Miami Trace played some of their best volleyball in the third set.
Miami Trace led most of the way, with the exception of an early 2-2 tie.
Miami Trace thrice led by as many as seven points, with Unioto calling a time out trailing 19-12.
The set only got tighter as it progressed.
Miami Trace led twice more by as many as seven points, but Unioto was not going away. With Miami Trace leading, 22-17, Unioto scored four straight points to pull to within one at 22-21.
Unioto finally tied the Panthers, 23-23.
Miami Trace scored to take a 24-23 lead. Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers, Unioto proceeded to score the next three points to take the set, 26-24 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
There was more fine play from Miami Trace in the fourth set. At one point, Miami Trace led by as many as 10 points, 18-8.
Unioto then went on a scoring surge, outscoring Miami Trace, 11-1 to tie the set, 19-19.
Miami Trace scored four consecutive points to lead, 23-19.
The Lady Panthers tied the match by winning the fourth set, 25-21.
Perhaps when it mattered most, Unioto fairly well took control of the fifth set.
The Tanks rolled out to a 7-2 lead, prompting a Miami Trace time out.
The break in the action, however, did little to blunt Unioto’s momentum, as the visitors soon led, 10-3.
Miami Trace could draw no closer than five points (11-6) before falling in the deciding set, 15-7.
“We had our chances and our opportunities,” Miami Trace head coach Doug Mace said. “We were the eighth seed and they were the ninth seed. We were very comparable teams. I thought coming into this that we were two similar teams.
“Every game was close,” Mace said. “It wasn’t like anybody blew anybody out, especially in the first four games. It just wasn’t our night. You’ll have those, it was just a not-so-good a time to do that.
“We had more self-inflicted errors on our side of the net,” Mace said. “And those came back to get us. We did that towards the end of a couple of games and you just can’t, when you’re playing a really good opponent, afford to make some mental mistakes and we did.”
It was the final match for the four Miami Trace seniors: Faith Morrison, McKenna Casto, Laura Robinson and Kennedy Kelley.
“We’re very proud of our seniors and what they helped us do,” Mace said. “For those four, they’ve been here and they helped build the program up. They were a part of our two league championships and a Sectional championship over the last couple of years. They’ve done a lot for us here. We’re going to miss them. It’s going to be tough to replace them.
“We got to compete for another league championship and we finished second,” Mace said, referring to the 2021 season. “Chillicothe won (the Frontier Athletic Conference) and they were really the best team in our league. We were not that far behind them.
“We had some adversity at different times during the season,” Mace said. “I think there were two or three of our losses, that, if we’d had all of our kids healthy, we might have had a different outcome. Overall, they had to fight through some things and I’m proud of them for that. We kept on playing and they never lost faith in themselves or in our program.
“They kept with it right until the very end, and that’s what you want to see,” Mace said. “You want to see your kids fight until the very end. Tonight it just wasn’t our night.”
Gracey Ferguson led Miami Trace with 51 set assists. She also had three ace serves, tops on the night.
Faith Morrison had 40 digs for the Lady Panthers.
Sophia Parsons led Miami Trace with 17 kills and five solo blocks.
Laura Robinson and Courtney Carter each had 15 kills.
In other Division II Sectional tournament matches in the Southeast District Monday, Gallia Academy defeated Washington, 25-12, 25-14 and 25-10. That match was played at Gallipolis.
The No. 1 seed Sheridan beat River Valley, 25-7, 25-6 and 25-8.
Unioto will play at Sheridan Wednesday in a Sectional finals match.
Circleville defeated Meigs, 25-15, 25-16 and 25-20. Circleville will play Gallia Academy for a Sectional title Wednesday.
Vinton County beat Warren in three sets, 25-8, 25-11 and 25-16.
Athens beat McClain in five sets, 25-11, 22-25, 25-16, 23-25 and 15-9.
Athens will play Vinton County for a Sectional championship Wednesday.
Logan Elm beat Hillsboro, 25-8, 25-3 and 25-7.
Fairfield Union rallied from two sets down to beat Waverly in five sets, 16-25, 14-25, 25-18, 25-19 and 15-12.
Logan Elm will play Fairfield Union Wednesday for a Sectional championship.
Miami Trace finishes the 2021 season with an overall record of 13-7. They were 8-2 in the Frontier Athletic Conference and finished in second place.