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Shenandoah KO’s Linsly in Semis

Photo by Jeff Harrison Linsly’s Ava Gainer, 13, sets the ball as teammate Celia Demarchi, 36, looks on during Tuesday’s OVAC Semifinal.

SHENANDOAH — Linsly came out with a burst of energy to start its OVAC Class 3A semifinal match against host Shenandoah, but the third-seeded Cadets couldn’t keep it going and the second-seeded Zeps rallied for a four-set win – 24-26, 25-13, 25-11 and 25-17 on Tuesday.

The victory puts Shenandoah into an OVAC final for the fourth time in five years, and the Zeps will try to knock off top-seeded, defending 3A champion Fort Frye in the championship match Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Union Local High School.

Fort Frye – which defeated Shenandoah twice during the regular season – punched its ticket to the finals with a 25-12, 25-7, 25-13 sweep of fourth-seeded Barnesville.

Shenandoah led 11-6 midway through the first set, but Linsly found a spark and reeled off 10 of the next 11 points to go up, 16-13. The action see-sawed the rest of the way until the Cadets scored the final two points, ending with an ace for a 26-24 victory.

Linsly’s fire was evident to Shenandoah coach Megan Grywalski after the opening set.

“Their serves were really tough to handle early,” said the Zeps’ coach, “and we were drowning in their energy. They brought the most excitement to the court at the beginning and we were really flat and didn’t match it until we got things rolling in the second set.”

Get rolling they did, breaking out from a 7-5 advantage with an 11-4 spurt to take control at 18-9 en route to winning by a dozen, 25-13, to even the match at 1-1.

Linsly was down seven, 17-11, in the third set but Shenandoah took control of the match with eight straight points to win, 25-11, and go up 2-1.

The Zeps led throughout the fourth set, with the closest the Cadets could get was 21-17, but SHS scored the final four tallies to seal the deal.

Despite the loss, Linsly coach Ashlee Jividen was proud of her team’s effort against the state-ranked Zeps.

“We had a couple of ball-control errors that added up in the last three sets, but the girls battled to the end,” said Jividen. “I told them I haven’t seen a Linsly volleyball team battle that hard and that’s what we want.

“Things keep getting better each year,” she added, “and we want to keep that momentum going next year.

Sophomore Mya Leach finished as the leader in kills with 15 followed by junior Charli Wickham Wickham with 11; freshman Klara Anderson with eight; sophomore Brylee May with six and sophomore Kinsley Brown with five. Senior Ryleigh Sherman collected 13 assists and sophomore Heather Merry had 11 while Leach led in aces with three.

Junior Grace Wikander led the defense with 12 kills followed by sophomore MaKenna Clift with nine; Leach with eight and sophomore Kadence Noll with seven.

“I think Klara played very mature at the net for a freshman and we’ve been waiting for Charli to kick into gear and she did that tonight,” said Shenandoah’s Grywalski..

Sophomore Avery Sadlowski led Linsly (14-6) at the net with a dozen kills while senior Mili Sekulovic, junior Rumer Beazel and sophomore Ava Gainer each had three, with Gainer also handing out 18 assists. Freshman Katerina Spanos and Gainer both had four aces.

Sekulovic and junior Celia Demarchi led in digs with five and four, respectively, and Gainer was charted with three blocks.

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