NEW MADISON – It was an electric atmosphere at the Battleground for the showdown between undefeated Preble Shawnee and Tri-Village for the Western Ohio Athletic Conference volleyball crown. The match would go a full five sets with the Patriots edging out the Arrows 27-25, 22-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-11 to claim the first ever WOAC Volleyball Title.
If you’re a fan of good serving, digs, sets, hard hit balls, long rallies, and highly competitive play the championship game turned out to be everything it was billed to be and more.
The Arrows got off to a good start going up 5-1 to start the first set but the PATS went on a run of their own and the battle was on.
Tri-Village went up 24-21 until back-to-back sets from Shawnee senior Carlyn George to junior middle Cora Neihoff found holes with the arrows tying the game at 24.
With the score deadlocked at 25, senior middle Madi Mead pounded down back-to-back kills giving the home team the first set win 27-25.
Just like in the first set Preble Shawnee jumped out in front 5-1, then 10-4 prompting a TV timeout and after the Arrows went up 18-9 it prompted a second timeout.
“With this being senior night, we made sure to play all seniors and they played inspired in that first set,” Tri-Village coach Chris Brewer said. “Some coaches might consider it crazy, but it was important to do that. When we got down a bit in the 2nd set we made some changes but I’m glad they all contributed to this big match,” Brewer added.
The seniors for Tri-Village were Meghan Downing, Caeli Updike, Molly Scantland, Maria Petry, Ashlynn Wilson, Madlynn Bennett, Madi Mead and Caitlin Bobison,
The second timeout got their attention as the Patriots roared behind the service of senior Caeli Updike cutting the margin to 18-15 resulting in Preble Shawnee coach Josh Evans to use a timeout to settle his squad.
Tri-Village got to within a point 23-22 but a big point from junior Liv Thompson along with a kill from Harlee Howard secured 2nd set win for the Arrows.
Preble Shawnee again sprung in front 9-2 in the third set repeating the same pattern before TV made roared back tying the game at 12. The set went back and forth with the Arrows hanging on to an 23-22 advantage before senior Maria Petry served the final 3 points with her teammates finding spots for scores and winning the set 25-23.
Just like a television re-run Preble jumped on top 6-2 in the 4th set and again TV rallied … but it was a determined Arrows squad playing on pure emotion refusing to give in to win the 4th set 25-21 and staying alive to force a 5th and final set.
No one was ready for the show to end nor were they turning off the drama and excitement of the WOAC Volleyball channel, unlike a re-run no one knew what the outcome would be.
In the final set TV broadcasted a brand-new episode, and for the first time in the match led early jumping ahead 9-3, it would prove to be important with the Arrows fighting back closing the gap to 13-10.
But on the strength of a good start Tri-Village held off Shawnee and finished the match on perfect set from Shelby Mintkenbaugh to senior hitter Meghan Downing who pounded it down untouched for the 15-11, 5th and final set win.
“You can’t play from behind in set 5, especially against a great team like Preble Shawnee. Getting that lead was important, especially on our home court and with this huge crowd, it was worth at least a couple of points ,” Brewer said.
“In my 5 years of coaching we’ve never been in a match like this before, going back and forth, back and forth. Playing from behind, then coming back, what a battle,” Brewer exhaled.
“Give credit to them they battled, battled, battled and never gave up,” Brewer stated.
The exciting finish touched off a jubilant celebration for the volleyball team that was soon engulfed by the very large and vocal student cheering section on hand energizing the girls when they needed it most.
It was an epic battle, one both teams can be proud to be a part and for those who witnessed these two great teams battle will be something they will talk about for some time.
TV coach Brewer has played and seen a lot of volleyball, but this match will be one he will remember forever.
“Our first year in the WOAC and the championship game comes down to this. I’m so proud of our girls and for our team, what a way to finish,” Brewer exclaimed!
“Honestly, in Tri-Village volleyball history this is best class we’ve ever seen. From top to bottom the whole senior class is so solid and we may never see a class like that again, they have size, athleticism, volleyball knowledge, it’s something at a small school that doesn’t come around very often and they will be difficult to replace,” Brewer concluded.
“They have meant a lot to our team and Tri-Village volleyball having won the last two years of the CCC and then wining the first ever WOAC title and that means a lot,” Brewer concluded.