LISBON - The Bluejays flew past the Tigers en route to claiming the championship.
The Jackson-Milton volleyball team won the first two games of the match en route to a 25-12, 25-16, 19-25, 25-9, victory over Wellsville in the Ohio Division IV Northeast District Final Thursday night at Lisbon High School.
With the win, Jackson-Milton will now play in the Region 13 Semifinals at 7:30 p.m. against the winner of the Medina District Wednesday at Solon High School. The Medina District Final is set for 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Medina High School. In the final, top-seeded Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph will face off against No. 2 seed Kidron Central Christian.
Wellsville coach Dan McKinstry talks with his team during a timeout on Thursday. (Photo by Aaron Petchal)
With the loss, the Tigers end the season at 22-4.
"They were better than us," veteran Wellsville head coach Dan McKinstry said. "I knew there were a couple of rotations we were going to struggle in, and we did.
"They passed the ball well. They had more offensive swings than we did."
Wellsville was the No. 2 seed in the district tournament. Wellsville advanced to the district final by defeating Canton Heritage Christian, 25-9, 25-9, 25-16, Southern Local, 25-22, 25-12, 25-17, before rallying to defeat Crestview, 22-25, 12-25, 25-21, 25-14, 15-7, Tuesday night in the semifinals.
The Tigers dropped the first two games of their match against the Bluejays before rallying to win the third one. This time, however, Wellsville was unable to complete the comeback.
"The first two games were a replica of the first two games Tuesday," McKinstry said.
Jackson-Milton advanced to the district final by defeating Sebring, 25-7, 25-4, 25-17, and by defeating Columbiana, 25-10, 25-18, 25-12, in the semifinals Tuesday.
"They are the most athletic team we have played," McKinstry said. "They cover well. They have nice size."
The top-seeded Bluejays gained control of the first game early on after the two teams traded some points. The game was tied at 4, but Jackson-Milton ripped off a 13-2 run to take a 17-6 advantage. The Bluejays increased their lead to 23-10 before finally being able to finish out the game.
Wellsville jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second game, but the Bluejays responded. The Tigers tried to stay in the game, but Jackson-Milton was able to come away with the nine-point win.
The Tigers got off to another good start in the third game. The start was keyed by the serving of sophomore Shayna Hamilton. Hamilton served Wellsville to a 9-0 lead.
"She got us off to a good start in Game 3," McKinstry said. "That really helped us. We were up 9-0. That gave us confidence."
The Bluejays battled their way back into the game, but the Tigers made the key plays down the stretch to win the game and force Game 4.
This time, Jackson-Milton jumped out to a big lead to take control. Wellsville staged a mini rally, but it was not enough as the Bluejays won the game and the match to claim the district title.
"Personally, I would have been disappointed had we not gotten to the district final," McKinstry said. "We had a lot of lettermen back from last year.
"We knew Jackson-Milton loomed. We didn't play them during the regular season. They are in the upper tier. We didn't play them, but we saw them play. We didn't have firsthand experience playing them, and our girls seem to do better when they are able to play someone."
The game ended the high school careers of Wellsville's three seniors. The Tigers seniors are Sarah Skinner, McKenna Pierson and Maleya Fultz.
"The seniors have meant a lot to the program," McKinstry said. "McKenna is a four-year letterman. Sarah and Maleya are three-year lettermen. They won three league titles. They won a district title. They are the district runner-up.
"They are good leaders. They are good teammates. They are great kids off of the court. We are going to miss them. They were quite the threesome for the last few years."