By Josh Brown
CENTERVILLE — Before Wednesday’s sectional final, Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen asked how many members of her team played in the Trojans’ last district appearance two years ago.
“Only four of them,” Owen said. “There’s 15 girls in there, and only four have had that opportunity.”
And Wednesday, it was Troy’s three seniors leading the charge back.
After the Trojans dropped the first set of Wednesday’s Division I sectional championship match against Beavercreek — which they had swept in the regular season — Troy rode the strong serve of Dana Wynkoop and Kearston Riley and the hitting of Camryn Moeller back into total control, putting away the final three sets and winning in four, 21-25, 25-23, 25-9, 25-17 to make its return to the district final.
Third-seeded Troy improved to 20-4 with the win and will face Ursuline Academy at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lakota East in the district final. No. 4 Beavercreek finished the season 19-5.
“I’m so proud of them all,” Owen said. “Two of the four girls that played in our last district match were seniors, Cam (Moeller) and Dana (Wynkoop). It says that we’re young. When we listened to them call out Beavercreek’s roster, it was senior after senior. Then you listen to ours, and the majority of our starting lineup is sophomores. For them to have that experience, to go as sophomores, I’m really proud of them.”
For Moeller and Wynkoop, who went to district as sophomores themselves, it’s special to get back after the Trojans came up short last year.
“It does, it feels really good,” Wynkoop said. “We were really upset that we didn’t go last year. We wanted to go back — but we’re glad we got the opportunity to go back this year.”
“It feels really good,” Moeller said. “It sucked last year. It was pretty devastating. But we knew what we had to do to win this game, and we did it. Dana and Kearston both showed great leadership out on the court. Kearston said ‘serve me the ball and I’ll get you a good pass,’ Dana was like ‘I’ll get you a good set’ and then I was going to put the ball down. After that first set, it was a great team effort.”
And for Riley, who didn’t play in the district match two years ago, it was particularly special.
“It feels really great,” she said. “I didn’t get to go my sophomore year, but four other people on the team did. They know what it’s like to get a medal, and I don’t — so I’m super excited to get one. Being one of the top 32 D-I teams in the state, it’s pretty awesome.”
Things didn’t begin well for the Trojans, though. The Beavers, who were swept by Troy back on Sept. 11, had something to prove — and Troy struggled to keep its serve in. Despite keeping the score close, with it tied as late as 14-14, the Trojans had five service errors in the first set alone, including one on the final point to allow Beavercreek to take a 1-0 lead.
“We came out a little sluggish, and Beavercreek came out wanting to prove a point,” Owen said. “We knew that they were going to be gunning for us, and we made some errors in that first set, missed too many serves, made some blocking errors.”
The Trojans knew that their serve would be the key after that.
“We missed a ton of serves in the first set,” Wynkoop said. “We knew we had to get our serves in, be more aggressive and communicate more.”
“After losing that first set, we knew we had to push and that it was up to us,” Riley said. “We had to take leadership and cheer our teammates on. My job was to serve tough, and in the first set, I did not do that. I literally missed every one. I knew I had to do this for my team.”
Troy bounced back in a big way.
Wynkoop served Troy out to a 4-0 lead in the second, aided by blocks by Lauren Schmitz and Brianna Slusher and a kill by Moeller. Then, after Beavercreek had rallied to pull to within 6-5, Riley went on a 5-0 service run that included three aces. The Beavers hung tough, even taking a 23-22 lead, but Moeller finished a lengthy rally off with a big kill, Slusher hit an ace and Moeller put down another kill to give Troy the set and even up the match.
“We knew we had to keep pushing and couldn’t let up,” Moeller said. “We were up pretty big in the second set and kind of let up. They’re a good team, and we knew we had to keep fighting to the end.”
“Dana and Kearston just played outstanding,”Owen said. “After the first set, the two of them just went back there and served with a purpose, and that was our key. And Beavercreek really had no answer for either of our left sides. Camryn got blocked a couple times early, but after that they had no answer for her or Lauren. And Kearston took some pressure off of Alexa (Holland) passing, and that helped us out, too. I was glad the three seniors could be our anchor tonight and lead us back into it.”
In Set 3, the Trojans erased any doubts.
An 8-0 service run by Wynkoop — including three aces — kicked things off, then Moeller later went on a seven-point run to take the score to 20-5 Troy, and the Trojans cruised to the win from there. And in the fourth, the Beavers were within four at 19-15 before Troy retook control with a side-out and Riley served three straight to make it 23-15. And on match point, the Beavers couldn’t return a serve by Moeller in three, allowing Troy to close out the win in impressive fashion.
“We came out strong after the first set,” Owen said. “We kind of gave away that lead in Set 2, and if we hadn’t closed out that set, we would’ve been in a really difficult situation, down 0-2. That momentum would’ve have been the same for us. But we played really strong in Set 3, and we just kept the pedal to the metal. And I thought Beavercreek got a little tired, too. I thought we looked more conditioned as the match went on.”
Moeller led the offense with 16 kills, four aces, 14 digs and three blocks, Schmitz added 12 kills, an ace, 10 digs and four blocks, Slusher had nine kills, nine blocks, an ace and a dig, Kate Orban had six kills, a dig and three blocks and Carly Pfeiffer had four kills, an assist and three blocks. Wynkoop had 33 assists, six aces and 10 digs, Morgan Baber had six assists and added three kills and a dig, Kearston Riley had six aces, six digs and an assist, Holland had two assists and nine digs and Payton Riley had an assist and an ace.
And now all of the Trojans will get to experience a district final, where they will face the top-ranked D-I team in the state, Ursuline Academy, on Saturday.
Miami East 3,
West Liberty-Salem 0
BROOKVILLE — The year 2010 was the last time Miami East did not win a Division III sectional title.
The Vikings weren’t about to start now.
Top-seeded and defending state champion Miami East (22-3) cruised through the D-III sectional championship match Wednesday night at Brookville High School, sweeping No. 7 West Liberty-Salem 25-12, 25-6, 25-13 to advance to Saturday’s district final.
Jonni Parker had 22 kills, 12 assists, three aces, five digs and three blocks, Kyndall Hellyer had 12 kills, 20 assists, three aces and a dig, Sophie Jacomet had three kills, an assist, two aces, seven digs and a block, Lydia Conley had three kills and two blocks and Sierra Kinnison and Delaney Bourelle each had one kill. Kaitlyn Mack had two aces and eight digs, Gabrielle Hawkins had an assist, an ace and nine digs and Anna Jacomet had a dig.
Miami East will face CHCA in the district final Saturday at Northmont High School.
ARCANUM — The eighth-seeded Lehman Cavaliers couldn’t pull off the upset in Wednesday’s Division IV sectional final against No. 5 Riverside at Arcanum High School, falling in four, 25-18, 21-25, 25-16, 26-24.
Riverside moves on to face Russia in the district final Saturday at Troy. Lehman finished the season 12-13.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.