Philo eliminates Big Red from sectional volleyball tournament

Steubenville's Anna Taylor digs the ball during a Division III East 1 sectional semifinal against Philo on Saturday. -Joe Catullo

STEUBENVILLE — Following a pair of close sets during Saturday’s Division III East 1 sectional semifinal at the Crimson Center, the Philo volleyball team became electric — pun intended.

The Electrics consistency played well throughout the match, while Big Red was unable to find the fire it needed. Philo, the 14th seed, eliminated No. 13 seed Steubenville from the tournament by scores of 25-20, 22-25, 25-9, 25-12.

Philo (8-15) head coach Mafi Gill credited the success to teamwork and intensity.

“They pretty much had to bring their focus back onto the court. They knew what they needed to do and took care of it,” she said regarding her team bouncing back from the second-set defeat. “They put it all on the court. They came together. They brought the momentum back into the game. They worked together and fixed it.

“We didn’t know too much about (Big Red). We knew they have a good outside hitter. They were pretty scrappy, as well. I think we were pretty even. We’re just glad that we came out on top. Mental toughness is big in volleyball.”

The Electrics led, 16-5, midway through the third set to run away and take a 2-1 advantage. In the final set, they led 15-10 before scoring 10 of the final 12 points.

“They came ready, and I failed to have our girls ready,” Big Red head coach Kristin Taylor said. “Sometimes, mentally we think we’re ready, then physically we’re just slow. We were slow in every aspect of the game, and you can’t be slow in any game, especially in your sectional tournament game.

“It’s kind of been a consistent pattern all season. One game we’re unstoppable, and the next we struggle. I take full responsibility for that as a coach. The consistency wasn’t there.”

Big Red (9-12) struggled from the opening serve and trailed, 21-14, in the opening set. It did bounce back and trailed 21-20 before Philo scored four straight points for the win.

The second set was Steubenville’s best performance of the contest. The back-and-forth affair stood at 22-all when Big Red took the final three points.

“Throughout the season, we usually progress as the sets go on. (Saturday) was absolutely the opposite,” Taylor said. “We didn’t get the first that we needed to finish. I don’t think we even had it to start.

“Everything was solid about (Philo on Saturday). They didn’t have a wow player, so to speak. They didn’t have just one threat. They all meshed well and all passed very well. They communicated very well, and we were just flat.”

If there was one player that stood out on the Electrics, it was their libero, Amasia Barnett. Very rarely did a ball get past her, and the stats prove that. The junior finished with 40 digs.

“She’s been like that all season. She’s been averaging 30-40 digs per game. She’s amazing and awesome,” Gill said.

Also for the Electrics, Caitlin Rose and Darbi Henderson had 12 kills each. Henderson also tallied 15 digs, three aces and a perfect serve percentage. Brooke Calling and Lydia Fink contributed 10 kills apiece.

For Steubenville, Anna Taylor had eight kills and eight digs. She left the match when Philo led, 7-4, in the fourth set due to an injury to her right shoulder.

“She’s been injured for the past month, and she’s been playing through it. I’m sure she dislocated her shoulder again,” coach Taylor said. “That’s something I think also was a little bit of emotions, too.”

Also for Big Red, Emily Allen produced eight points, two kills, 26 assists and five digs. Maggi Cucarese had 10 points, three aces, three kills and six digs. Kiera O’Brien added seven points, four kills and four digs.

“We’re strong. We’re going to come back and be stronger next year,” coach Taylor said. “You’re not always going to be on top, and you’re not always going to have successful seasons. But, you have to learn how to rebuild on your mistakes and come back stronger the next year. That’s the only thing I want to do.

“I have a lot of talent ready to go. I’m sure they need a break from me, but I’d be willing to start up again on Monday if they’d let me.”

Philo advances in the tournament and will travel to face top-seeded Beaver Local on Wednesday. The Beavers only have one loss and have defeated Big Red twice this season.


Harrison Central 3, West Muskingum 1

CADIZ — In a Division IV East sectional semifinal on Saturday, Harrison Central topped Muskingum, 18-25, 25-12, 25-9, 25-16, on Saturday.

McKayla Dunkle led the Huskies with 22 kills. Lexi Ferguson tallied 27 assists, and Maddy Butler added 10 digs.

Harrison Central, the 11th seed, travels to face second-seeded Union Local on Monday.

Martins Ferry 3, Buckeye Local 0

MARTINS FERRY — In the other Division IV East sectional semifinal, Martins Ferry swept No. 18 seed Buckeye Local, 25-20, 25-22, 25-16, on Saturday.

The Purple Riders, the 14th seed, travels to challenge top-seeded Tuscarawas Valley on Tuesday.


Oak Glen 3, Weir High 0

Oak Glen swept Weir High, 25-16, 25-11, 25-21, on Saturday.

Ashlyn Six had a dozen kills for the Golden Bears. Gracie Wright produced 13 assists and seven aces. Alayna Kranis also had 12 kills, along with three digs and four aces. Sydney Smith added four aces and 10 digs.


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