JA spikers fall in D-II regional finals


Jonathan Alder’s Katie Stroupe (left) and Jaden Phelps go up for a block Saturday at Lexington High School. JA fell to Parma Heights Holy Name 3-1 in the Division II regional title match. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)

A number of officiating calls that Jonathan Alder hadn’t seen very often during the regular season proved to be a campaign-ending difficulty on Saturday during the Division II regional volleyball championship match at Lexington High School.
The Lady Pioneers, who were seeded No. 11 in the regional tournament (from the four districts throughout the state), were cited for 15 double-hit infractions during a 3-1 loss to defending state champion Parma Heights Holy Name (No. 5).
“There were a lot of double hits on us,” said Alder head coach Joe Ross. “That was very unusual and that’s all I want to say about it.”
The mental wear-and-tear of those referee decisions forced the Lady Pioneers (who finished the season at 26-2) out of their regular offense.
Instead of its normal setting pattern for kills, JA had to rely on a lot of bump passes to set up hitting opportunities, for fear of being called for additional double hits.
That, in turn, kept Alder from its reputation of sending balls smashing to the other side of the floor for kills.
The opening set of the match was worth every penny that fans from both sides of the gymnasium paid.
The game was a back-and-forth battle, with neither squad able to sustain long serving runs.
Holy Name (25-2) held the upper hand for most of regulation play, but it wasn’t by very many points.
A number of Green Wave markers came as a result of six Alder double hit infractions.
The Lady Pioneers battled back from an 11-8 deficit and tied the set at 19-all when Holy Name sent the ball sailing out-of-bounds.
A couple JA hitting miscues gave Parma Heights a 21-19 edge, but Alder earned two points on Green Wave hitting miscues.
Holy Name went to set point – 24-21 – when JA hit the ball into the net.
Ava Francis and Gracie Nees kept the Lady Pioneers in the action with a pair of kills.
Parma Heights then struck the net with the ball to tie the contest at 24-24.
A blistering kill from Samantha Snow pushed the Wave up by a 25-24 count.
JA, however, stayed in the set at 25-all when Holy Name passed the ball off the court.
Jonathan Alder took its first lead of the game at 26-25 when Parma Heights hit the ball out of play.
An errant Green Wave tip then gave Alder its 27-25 overtime triumph.
A number of hitting and blocking errors by the Pioneers pushed Holy Name out to an 8-1 advantage during the ensuing set.
Jonathan Alder had to play catch-up from that point on during the game.
A kill from Emma Shepherd later narrowed Alder’s deficit to 15-9.
Ellie Heisler dinked a kill over the net to slice JA’s margin to 17-11.
The ladies from Plain City were whistled for back-to-back double hits as the Green Wave climbed to a 23-13 lead.
A couple of Holy Name hitting miscues pulled Alder to within 23-16.
Additional JA hitting mistakes gave the Green Wave a 25-16 victory and a 1-1 deadlock in sets.
The third set was another nail-biter.
Alder gave Holy Name a pair of points on net serves, but narrowed the early gap to 6-5 with Nees’ kill along the back row.
McKenzie Wright dinked a kill over the net to pull Alder to within 9-6.
The Green Wave, however, tallied points on tips and “pooch” kills of their own to unguarded spots on the floor throughout the battle.
“They played at a very fast pace and were very quick getting the ball over the net for those types of kills,” said Ross.
A lift call against JA gave Parma Heights a 15-9 margin.
The lead grew to 17-10 when the Wave’s Megan Oleksik and Abrianna Marchetta teamed for a block.
JA scored a pair of points on a tip by Francis and Shepherd’s block to make the score 17-12.
The Green Wave, though, kept increasing its lead, reaching a 24-14 spread on a tip by Snow.
Shepherd kept Alder in the game with a kill that made the score 24-15.
JA’s final point of the set came when Parma Heights was called for a double hit.
Jessica Nary, however, blasted a kill for Holy Name’s 25-16 triumph and a 2-1 margin in sets.
The Lady Pioneers kept battling during the fourth game.
Jaden Phelps’ kill narrowed JA’s deficit to 11-8 in the early stage of the set.
Alder’s gap remained at three – 13-10 – when Nees and Heisler combined for a block.
Kennaday Izzard was on the serving line for Alder while the combatants engaged in a series of volleys, digs and saves.
The pattern was broken, though, when Alyssa Krauses’ kill gave Holy Name a 19-12 lead.
A tip from Shepherd whittled JA’s deficit to 20-14, but that was as close as the local team remained.
Snow put down a vicious kill, Alder sent a dig flying out of play and had an errant serve reception as the Green Wave put away the match by a 25-17 count.
The 3-1 victory will send Parma Heights Holy Name into the state semifinals at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.
The Green Wave will face Sparta Highland (No. 12), which upset No. 2 Dover, 3-0, during another regional final.
“We had to play from behind in the last few sets,” said Ross. “As a result, we got out of our game plan.”
Even with the setback, the coach was pleased with his first season at the Alder helm.
“We have great kids at Jonathan Alder and we’re going to use this season to build for the future,” said Ross. “It was a great opportunity to play for a regional championship and this is going to help us going forward.

Emma Shepherd of JA prepares to send the ball over the net for the Lady Pioneers on Saturday at Lexington High School. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)

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