McKenzie Wright (1) of Jonathan Alder sets the ball for Olivia Zurro (10) during Wednesday’s tournament match against Columbus Cristo Rey. The Lady Pioneers won the Division II contest with a three-set sweep. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The juggernaut that has been Jonathan Alder’s varsity volleyball team made short work of Columbus Cristo Rey during a Division II sectional championship match on Wednesday.
Playing on their home court, the second-seeded Lady Pioneers ran their record to 23-1 with a 25-2, 25-8, 25-7 victory.
The Cougars (No. 17) were outmatched from the start of the contest as Alder’s front line of Ava Francis, Emma Shepherd and Jaden Phelps was just too much to overcome.
Francis and Shepherd are among the top front line players in the Central District. Francis was also recently named Player of the Year in the Central Buckeye Conference.
It was Phelps’ work, however, that gave JA an added dimension.
“Ava and Emma are at the top of every team’s scouting report,” said Alder head coach Joe Ross. “Jaden just adds another dynamic to our front line and makes it hard to defend us.”
JA went on top 8-0 during the opening set on a kill from Phelps.
Cristo Rey tallied its first point when Alder sent the ball sailing out-of-bounds.
It was more of the Lady Pioneers’ few mistakes that led to Cougar points than any offense the visiting team could generate.
JA’s Jaden Phelps prepares to blast the ball over the net on Wednesday. The Lady Pioneers swept Cristo Rey in tournament action. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
Service returned to JA, along with a 9-1 lead, when Cristo Rey fired a wild dig out of play.
A kill by Francis gave Alder its first double-digit lead of 12-2.
An ace serve by McKenzie Wright and a tip over the net by Grace Nees came during a long offensive run that gave Jonathan Alder the first-set victory.
Cristo Rey held its only lead of the night when an errant Alder serve began the ensuing game.
A pair of kills from Phelps, however, gave JA a 7-2 lead that was never threatened.
The Lady Pioneers rested their main starters throughout the second and third sets.
Ellie Heisler came off the bench for an ace serve that gave Alder an 11-4 margin.
Phelps’ next blast over the net pushed JA up by a 21-4 count.
The Cougars tallied a handful of consolation points on Alder hitting errors.
The defensive pressure supplied by Nees and Hannah Beech sent the ball into the net for the Cougars.
That put JA a point away from the set victory with a 24-7 lead.
Cristo Rey scored its final point of the game on the Lady Pioneers’ serving miscue.
A bad pass along the back row by the Cougars then gave Alder a 25-8 victory and a 2-0 lead in sets.
The Pioneers’ younger players continued their dominance, despite have several points erased by a serving rotation mistake.
JA had climbed to a 7-1 lead before the error was detected.
Once the officials realized the problem, the score reverted back to a 1-1 deadlock.
That didn’t bother the Lady Pioneers as they quickly jumped out to a 7-3 lead on a pair of kills from Nees.
Wright assisted on a kill by Beach that gave JA a 15-4 advantage.
Kennady Izzard put a kill in the book that pushed the Lady Pioneers out to a 21-7 lead.
Alder then took advantage of several Cougar hitting and passing errors to wrap up the match.
JA will advance to the district semifinal match next Thursday (Oct. 24), 6 p.m., at Licking Heights High School.
The Lady Pioneers will face No. 11 Bloom Carroll.
Ross was pleased with what he saw from his squad.
“The girls are very tenacious and they’ve worked hard,” he said. “It’s a nice problem to have when you can put different people (a younger lineup) in different spots and still be able to do good things.”
...For the full story, select an option below.