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Monroeville overwhelms Wellsville

Wellsville’s Kinley Martin spikes the ball against Monroeville on Saturday in a Div. IV regional final at Uniontown Lake High School. (Photo by Wayne Maris)

UNIONTOWN — Wellsville High School’s outstanding girls’ volleyball season came to a sad ending just one win short of state here Saturday as the 12th-ranked Tigers were defeated 25-10, 25-11, 25-11 by 9th-ranked Monroeville in a Div. IV regional final at Lake High School.

But ask any member of the Tigers’ team or their following that made the long trip to Uniontown and they will likely tell you the great ride was worth the fall.

“It’s disappointing, but what a ride,” said Wellsville head coach Dan McKinstry. “It was a great season.”

The Tigers concluded one of the greatest campaigns in Wellsville volleyball history, finishing with a 25-2 record, along with an Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference title, a district crown and a regional runner-up trophy.

In a poignant moment following their regional runner-up trophy presentation. McKinstry walked over in front of the Wellsville stands and waved in appreciation to the Tiger fans in a gesture thanking them for their great support. In return, the Wellsville fans rose to their feet clapping for the team and coaches for their memorable season.

“I told the fans I appreciated all of them coming,” explained McKinstry. “We had a lot of people here and we’ve had great support all season. It’s been an enjoyable season, the kids worked hard — all the way down the line it was good, it just didn’t end the way we wanted, but we knew somebody had to win and somebody had to lose, so it is what it is.”

With the win, Monroeville (24-3), which also advanced to state in 2015, improved to 24-3. The Eagles will play New Bremen, which ousted Jackson Center 3-0 in its regional final Saturday, in a state semifinal Thursday at 2 p.m. at Wright State University in Fairborn.

Volleyball is such a game of momentum, and that was the case Saturday as Monroeville grabbed it with a 25-10 win over the Tigers in the first set and never relinquished it.

“Having the momentum in volleyball is a huge advantage,” said Monroeville head coach Kendra Snook. “That was my message every time we came out of a timeout was to keep pushing, stay focused and play one ball at a time, because I knew in a regional final, if they (the Tigers) get momentum a match can turn very quickly.”

Wellsville’s McKinstry knew his team would have to be at the top of its game against the taller Eagles who had 39 kills in the match.

“I knew we were going to have our hands full,” said McKinstry. “Because they (the Eagles) play at a faster pace than we do and they play in a much stronger region and district. Crestview was probably the best team we’ve played (in regular season) but they still weren’t as dynamic or as diverse as they (the Eagles) were. We have decent size, but we didn’t have the (overall) size to compete.”

The Eagles were successful in trying to steer some of the action away from Wellsville’s tall and talented star Kiki Perry, who still finished with a team-high nine kills and two blocks.

“That was our main focus going into this game is we knew we had to stop her (Perry),” said Snook. “We talked about that in practice yesterday.”

The Tigers’ other top stat leaders on the day included Kinley Martin with six kills and Regan Pierson with 16 assists and two kills.

With momentum clearly on its side, Monroeville, which led 5-4, went on a 10-1 run to take a commanding 15-5 lead in the second set. The Eagles’ Adrian Barman served seven of Monroeville’s points in the run.

The Eagles took as much as a 15-point lead at 23-8 and won 25-11.

“We were nervous, we just had a hard time getting settled,” said McKinstry.

Wellsville took a 1-0 lead to open the third set but the Eagles tied it at 1-1 and led by two-to-eight points for the first half of the set. But leading 13-5, Monroeville spurted again, outscoring the Tigers 12-6 to win the match and earn the trip to state.

“Our serve reception has been a forte all year, but we really struggled today and some of that was serving, we just didn’t pass it as well as we could of, but hey, they were better than us, the better team won and you take you hats off to them,” said McKinstry.

Monroeville’s statistical leaders included Graisyn Yoder (20-for-20 serving with six aces and 11 kills), Adrian Barman (16-of-16 serving with six aces, six kills and nine digs), Stacia Stieber (20 digs), Camyrn Hedrick (37 assists), Kylee Brooks (11 kills, three blocks), Kelsie Palmer (six kills, one block) and Maura Brown (five kills, three blocks).

“We don’t consider Graisyn (Yoder) a freshmen anymore, she’s been playing up in club (volleyball),” said Snook. “She’s strong, she works hard and is just going to continue to get better. It was nice to see a freshman have that kind of performance on the big stage.”

McKinstry hopes the great run by this year’s Tiger team will provide future Wellsville teams with a vision of what can be accomplished through hard work.

“This (tournament run) should motivate our younger kids, we have some nice eighth graders who didn’t lose, our seventh-grade lost twice and our jayvees were 18-4,” said the Wellsville coach, “So we’ve got kids coming, and if they work hard and get better, we’ll see.”

NOTES

…Talk about a tough regional. Three the four teams in the Lake Regional were ranked in the final State Volleyball Coaches Association poll, including Monroeville (9th), Wellsville (12th) and Dalton (16th).

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