Beavers had a tournament run to remember
MALVERN — As the Beaver Local volleyball looked across the court following Saturday’s Div. II district final, it watched a mirror image of itself hoisting the championship trophy.
Heading into the match with New Philadelphia, the Beavers knew the Quakers played similar with them. Unforced errors, a few questionable whistles and a confident Quakers team led New Philly to a 25-15, 25-17, 25-15 victory and its second ever district championship (2012).
Even after the girls received their medals from high school principal Tom Cunningham, nobody was disappointed. A perfect season concluded. Beaver’s first ever volleyball district final ended in defeat.
It is still the greatest season in Beaver volleyball history. Head coach Sarah Lowe made sure her players knew that afterwards.
“You didn’t just leave a mark on the school district. You left behind a legacy,” Lowe said to her team in the locker room.
The Beavers end their 2016 season 24-1. They captured an OVAC title, a Buckeye 8 championship and their first sectional title in 28 years.
“Coming off of last year, the girls got a taste of that success. They broke the school record for number of wins. Coming into this season, I thought they were more composed. We also had a little more depth. All season they battled hard, hoping to get to this point.
From beginning to end Saturday evening, the Beavers struggled. The Quakers (22-3) began their dominance early and often in every set. They even led 23-13 in the first and second sets.
“We couldn’t zone in on just one player. They have several hitters leading the way in terms of kills,” Lowe said. “Defense wise they had several strong passers. It was almost like a mirror image, but I think they came into tonight with more confidence. Our girls played hard. We said before heading into the match we want to leave it all on the floor.”
Fortunately for New Philly head coach Carla Pry, the Quakers watched Beaver compete against Claymont on Tuesday in a district semifinal. They also knew they were similar to Beaver and got help from everyone.
“We have a lot of really good hitters,” Pry said. “We don’t have just one go-to person. We spread the ball around almost every night we play. It’s nice when you can count on more than one person. We have hit our peak at the right time. We really have.”
Madison Smith tallied 10 kills and one dig for the Beavers. Kaitlynn Pugliano had 17 assists, 10 digs and five kills. Megan Buchheit recorded 16 assists, seven kills and six digs. Dakota Heaton added eight kills and three digs.
“They were definitely really good and picked on our weaknesses,” Buchheit said. “I just think that we played as hard as we could, but you can’t win everything. It was going to happen eventually.”
For the Quakers, they tallied 36 kills. Summer Price led with 10. Josie Pry and Sam Malcolm had eight apiece. Emily Tetzloff had six, and Aaliyah Currence added four.
“New Philadelphia played a great game,” Lowe said. “They executed well on offense. We had a lot of unforced errors. We may have had a few nerves stepping onto the floor. We had trouble fighting through. Our girls never gave up, but the errors outweighed us.”
With the Beavers eliminated, they turn their attention to the girls soccer team. The Beavers will open regional play against Tri-Valley at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Dover Middle School.
“I wish our soccer team the best,” Lowe said. “Before sectionals, all of the coaches got together to make sure we all played on different nights so we can go support each other. It’s the red and white we cherish. It’s not about one sport; it’s about all of them. It’s phenomenal to see our soccer team playing right now.”
-Beaver is losing three seniors before next season starts in Katie Barber, Dakota Heaton and Kaitlynn Pugliano.
“This is the closest I’ve ever been with one team,” Buchheit said. “Our three seniors will definitely be missed next year. I still have one more year, and I hope to make the most of it.”
-New Philly will face Columbus Bishop in a regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Zanesville.