Potters land in OVAC final

EAST LIVERPOOL – East Liverpool entered the OVAC Class 4A volleyball tournament as the top seed and looked like it Tuesday night with a sweep of fourth-seeded Harrison Central 25-10, 25-17, 25-21.

“I’m very happy with the win,” East Liverpool coach Jonathan Stokes said. “The first two sets we really played our game.”

For the Huskies (13-7), just being in the tournament was an accomplishment in itself.

“Coming in as the No. 4 and playing the No. 1 on their home court, it was definitely a big battle for us,” Harrison Central coach Sarah Hawthorne said. “It was just nice and good to make it into the OVAC tournament. It had been quite a few years since we’ve gotten here, so it’s a good turnaround for the program.”

Harrison Central took awhile to get going, something Hawthorne wishes could have went differently.

“That was one of, if not the best teams we’ve played all year,” she said. “Seeing some different competition we haven’t seen all season, it was a bit of shock at first for our girls. Once we realized we can play with them, we turned around our mentality. If they realized that a little sooner it might have been different.”

The Potters (19-2) turned a 4-2 Huskies lead into a 13-4 advantage with an 11-0 run to put some distance between the sides. They would not look back, finishing the first set on a 9-2 run for a 1-0 advantage in the semifinal match.

After some early back and forth play in the second set, it was yet another East Liverpool run that put them on top for good. The Potters went on a 7-0 run that turned a 5-3 Harrison Central lead into a 10-5 lead for the Potters. The Huskies attempted to battle back but were never able to get closer than within two the rest of the way. East Liverpool pulled away for a 25-17 set win and a 2-0 lead.

The third set was a much closer battle all the way through. The Huskies led the majority of the way, even forcing a Potters timeout with a 4-1 run that put them on top 13-9. The score was tied four times including late at 20-20. East Liverpool became too much for the Huskies to handle late in the set, however, closing out the sweep with a 25-21 third set.

“We played a slow third set, and I’m not happy with that,” Stokes said. “The first two sets I’m happy with; we played the way we play.”

For the Potters, Skye Stokes had 11 kills, eight assists, two digs and four aces. Terran Stacey had four kills, 17 assists, two digs and three aces. Kiandra Rowart had six kills. Mariah Peachey recorded five kills, two assists and a block.

Harrison Central is back in action against Shenandoah on Thursday at home. East Liverpool will face Oak Glen on Saturday at Union Local in the OVAC Class 4A final. Oak Glen knocked off Meadowbrook later Tuesday night.