Olivia Zuro (left) of Jonathan Alder attempts to get the ball over a Springfield Shawnee blocker Wednesday evening. Also pictured for JA is Jaden Phelps (23). The Lady Pioneers captured their fourth consecutive Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division title with a three-set sweep. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The Union County area has made it a clean volleyball sweep as far as top honors in the Central Buckeye Conference.
A night after North Union’s spikers claimed the circuit’s Mad River Division crown, the Lady Pioneers of Jonathan Alder earned their fourth consecutive CBC Kenton Trail title.
Alder kept its conference and overall records (8-0 and 16-0 respectively) unblemished with Wednesday’s 25-9, 25-16, 25-17 verdict over Springfield Shawnee.
“Before the season began, we set a couple of goals,” said coach Joe Ross.
“With the coronavirus, we were just hoping to conduct a season and play as many matches as we could,” he said. “Our second goal was to win the conference.
“This is really awesome for our seniors (Ava Francis, Kennady Izzard, Alexa Kaltenbach, Ellen Kennedy, Gracie Nees, Emma Shepherd and Kate Stroupe),” said Ross. “They’ve won the conference all four years they’ve played at the high school level.”
Alder leads Kenton Ridge by two matches in the division as it prepares to play at Bellefontaine this evening.
The Lady Pioneers were scheduled to play Kenton Ridge on Tuesday.
The match, however, was postponed as the Clark County school can’t play sports for the next two weeks.
That’s due to COVID-19.
“We’re hoping we can make up that match on Oct. 26, but we’re not sure yet,” said Ross.
The Pioneer coach is happy that to date, the virus has not had a physical impact on his squad.
“We’re just taking it one day at a time,” he said. “However, so far things have gone well.”
Wednesday’s opening set was deadlocked at 2-2 before the Lady Pioneers got untracked.
An ace serve by Izzard helped spark a 7-2 run that pushed Alder out to a 9-4 lead.
JA’s string of points was interrupted by a kill from Shawnee’s Lauren Schack.
An ace serve from Kennedy upped Alder’s margin to 13-7.
The Lady Pioneers took advantage of Shawnee hitting and passing miscues over the next several minutes.
As such, Jonathan Alder’s advantage climbed to 20-7.
Francis blasted a kill for a 22-8 lead.
She later ended the set with a shot over the net that gave Alder a 1-0 margin in sets.
The Lady Pioneers got off to a strong start during the ensuing game.
Kills by Olivia Zuro, Jaden Phelps and Ellie Heisler staked Alder to a 12-4 lead.
A pair of kills by Francis and another from Olivia Crabtree upped the Lady Pioneers’ advantage to 21-7.
Ross began subbing players throughout the lineup in order to give his starters a breather.
The Braves did not take advantage as they couldn’t narrow their gap to less than seven points.
The game ended when Shawnee sent a serve reception out of play.
Armed with a 2-0 lead in sets, Alder rose to a 7-3 advantage during the final game.
Shepherd put down a kill that led to JA’s 12-7 margin.
Lizzie Lombardi later set Francis’ monster blast to the Braves’ side of the court for a 17-8 advantage.
Ross again put younger players on the court to finish the contest.
Shawnee made a bit of a run, pulling to within 23-17 when JA sent the ball sailing out of play.
Heisler pounded a kill that halted the Braves’ run.
That put JA only one point away from completing the sweep.
Lombardi helped finish the contest when she set a kill by Olivia Ishmael.
“We controlled what we could on our side of the net,” said Ross. “Our passing was very good and we had good swings at the ball.”