Creek’s season comes to an end with four-set loss to Potters

WINTERSVILLE — Two chapters closed for the Indian Creek volleyball team.

A major momentum swing turned the tide East Liverpool’s way early on, and the Potters rode the wave of momentum to take a commanding lead.

The Redskins battled back to make it a match, however, No. 9 seed East Liverpool was finally able to put No. 8 seed Indian Creek away as the Potters defeated the Redskins, 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 25-21, in an Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional Co-Final Wednesday night at Indian Creek.

“Our girls battled,” Indian Creek (13-6) head coach Molly Wilson said. “That says a lot about the heart they have. Being down 2-0 and to come back and win the third set says an awful lot about these girls. We have been lucky to have 10 seniors this season who have shown the way all year.”

The Potters had some kids step up in key situations against the Redskins.

“(Kyia) White got hurt when we played here last Tuesday,” East Liverpool (16-6) head coach Dan McKinstry said. “She did not play Thursday or Saturday. She practiced Monday and yesterday. She came back and played well. Nadia Williams is out. Freshman Kenzie Headley stepped in, and she did a real-nice job. She had been playing in the middle. Last week she came to us and said she thought she could play on the outside. She has good size and a lot of potential. Erica Ward right at the end had four or five big serves in a row. We battled. We kept playing. We played here last week. We just kept battling. We found a way.”

With the win, East Liverpool will play No. 1 seed Tri-Valley in the district semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Buckeye Trail. Tri-Valley advanced by sweeping No. 15 seed Minerva, 25-16, 25-8, 25-12, in a sectional co-final Wednesday night at home.

“We play Tri-Valley Tuesday,” McKinstry said. “I have not seen them. I know they are big. They have four six-footers. We have got three days to prepare, and we will see what we can do.

“I told the seniors I would like for them to get to the districts. They have not played in the districts. They made it to the districts when they were freshmen, but they did not play. I am so happy for the seniors. They are the leaders of the team.”

Indian Creek led East Liverpool, 21-16, in the first set, however, the Potters caught fire and scored the last nine points to win the game, 25-21, and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

“We put Delani Ice in when we were down,” McKinstry said. “She came in and made a play, and then we made another play. We made some plays, and then we got the momentum. It came down to energy and big plays.”

Once the tide turned, the Redskins were unable to do get the momentum back on their side.

“That has been the story of our season,” Wilson said. “When we have the lead, they play well and they play with confidence, however, when things go array, we crumble. I will take coming back and winning the third set any day.

“This is our last match. The girls fought until the end. They played hard. Things just did not go our way.”

East Liverpool carried the momentum into the second game as the Potters were in control from early on as they pulled away from the Redskins for a 25-17 win to take a 2-0 advantage.

“In the second game, we passed extremely well,” McKinstry said. “We had a lot of quality serves.

“We played Beaver Local Saturday, and they are bigger and probably better than we are. We did not pass well against them, and in the third game we did not pass as well as we had previously in the match. We struggled getting the ball from our setters to our hitters, and our hitters did not finish.”

Facing elimination, the Redskins refused to go away quietly as Indian Creek dug deep to win the third set, 25-21, enabling the Redskins to stave off elimination.

The majority of the match was back-and-forth, and the fourth set was no exception as the hosts continued to battle throughout the fourth set, however, it was not enough as the visitors stepped it up late in the game, and the girls in blue came away with a victory to win the match 3-1.

Individually for Indian Creek, Carley Penner produced six kills, one block, 21 assists, two aces and one dig, Olivia Wukelic collected 20 kills, five digs and one ace and Kailey McMillon tallied seven kills, three digs and one ace. Also, Jordan Hiles had one kill, 15 digs and one ace, Gracie Francis finished with five kills, two assists and nine blocks and Brooke Grant recorded 16 assists and one dig. Next, Ava Schloss added one kill and one assists, Peyton Freshwater picked up 11 digs and Ally Pethel delivered five digs. Finally, Bella Pitts chipped in with two digs, Tori Robertson contributed six kills and Katie Turner ended up with one assist.

“I am extremely proud of the girls,” Wilson said. “They fought hard. I wish them best in their future endeavors.”

For East Liverpool, Faith Grafton finished with four kills, three blocks and 21 assists, White tallied 13 kills and six blocks and Sydney Cooper produced two aces and 25 digs. Also, Ice contributed two kills and five assists, Alya Brown added 12 kills and three blocks and Gabby George recorded 21 assists. Next, Meghan Brereton chipped in with 11 digs, Headley had 10 kills and Jetta Fitch collected nine kills. Finally, Ward delivered two aces.

“I may be wrong, but I don’t think we missed a serve and they only missed one,” McKinstry said. “I know we did not miss a serve. That has been our MO all season. We have done a very-good job serving all season long. That has really helped us.”

Indian Creek and East Liverpool have played four teams this season — twice in the regular season, once in the OVAC Tournament and in the sectional tournament. The Potters won three of the four matches.

“We made some adjustments,” Wilson said. “We did what we could. It just wasn’t in the cards.”

The two teams split during the regular season. East Liverpool won the OVAC match as well as the sectional match.

“I watched the film of the matches,” McKinstry said. “They used the same rotations in every game. They had their cross-court hits. Our blocker did not take the best angle to them.

“In the end, it came down to execution. We played tremendous defense. I am happy for the girls. We are looking forward to Tuesday.”

The match was the last one for Indian Creek’s 10 seniors – Penner, Pethel, Schloss, Francis, Wukelic, Hiles, Grant, McMillion, Freshwater and Turner.

“They are our entire program,” Wilson said. “They have 10 different personalities. They are 10 different girls. They came together as one team. They all worked together. That speaks volume about the kind of people they are.”

The Redskins underclassmen also stepped up this season. Four underclassmen – Reese Scott, Emma Morrison, Robertson and Pitts — dressed for the sectional match.

“They have worked hard,” Wilson said. “They are going to play in the offseason. We are going to work hard and get back at it next season.”

The match was also Indian Creek’s final one in the current gym. The Redskins will be playing in the gym in the new high school next season.

“It was our last match in this gym,” Wilson said. “Of course, it is a mixed blessing. They hate it, but at the same time they love it. We are lucky that we will be playing in a state-of-the-art facility next season.”

Also of note for the Potters, George has more than 1,000 assists in her illustrious career. George recorded her 1,000th assist Saturday against Beaver Local in the OVAC Class 4A Final down at Union Local.


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