Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
LOGAN — Just 16 teams remain the Division III tournament field. Three local teams … Huntington, Adena and Wheelersburg … are a part of that number.
Thursday, all three will put their seasons on the line once more and battle for a spot in the Elite Eight. Here’s a look at both Division III regional semifinal matchups and what you need to know before you make the trip to Logan High School.
Huntington (18-7) vs. Berlin Hiland (25-1), 6 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Megan Steele, Huntington, outside hitter, No. 8: Undoubtedly, Steele has been one of the most underrated players in the Scioto Valley Conference all year long. The dynamic outside hitter has been the key piece to Huntington’s puzzle during the team’s three-game tournament run as she’s posted 60 kills and 39 digs. She’s a terror to defend at the net.
Harmony Henneberger, Huntington, libero, No. 12: While Steele leads the Huntsmen’ offense into the matchup, Henneberger will do the same with the defense. Hiland has been extremely good from the service line this season, so Henneberger’s ability to pass effectively to Huntington setter Alyssa Steele becomes that much more important. Steele, Allison Basye and Katie Hirsch need to get clean swings on the ball. Henneberger starts that process in the back row.
Madison Yoder, Hiland, middle hitter, No. 1: Yoder leads the Hawks in kills with 254 alongside a 41.0 kill percentage, the highest on the team. She also boasts of 63 aces with a 95.9 serve percentage, 62 total blocks, and 225 digs. In short, she does a bit of everything. Hiland will certainly call Yoder’s number multiple times in their attempt to oust the Huntsmen. Huntington must find a way to stop her at the net. If she gets in a rhythm, it could spell trouble.
Kim Miller, Hiland, setter, No. 5: In her four-year career, Miller has passed out 2,548 assists but her 788 this season is a career high. She’s also imperative to the team’s defense, totaling 236 digs this fall. The experience factor and the chemistry with her hitters is a central reason why Hiland comes in at 25-1. Miller is an All-Ohioan for a reason. Running the Hawks’ offense is now second nature to her and her volleyball IQ is through the roof. She’ll be on her game like usual.
1. Huntington’s three tournament opponents had a combined record of 42-29. The Huntsmen beat SVC champion Westfall in four sets to win their first district title since 2016. Hiland’s four tournament opponents had a combined record of 43-54. The Hawks beat Cambridge in four sets to win their second consecutive district title.
2. This is the second straight season that Hiland has faced an SVC opponent in the regional semifinal round. Last fall, they lost to Southeastern in four sets by a 26-24, 25-18, 23-25, 26-24 final.
3. The Hawks bring in a 23-game win streak to Thursday’s match. Their only loss this year came in a four-set loss to Tuscarawas Valley on Aug. 22. Altogether, the team has lost a total of six sets.
Adena (18-7) vs. Wheelersburg (25-0), 7:30 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Camryn Carroll, Adena, libero, No. 15: If there’s one thing Carroll knows, it’s defense. The SVC’s Defensive Player of the Year has been outstanding all year long. Just a sophomore, she’s fit like a glove into coach Laura Smith’s system. The libero leads the Warriors’ defense with 364 serve receptions and has only made 24 errors. She owns 345 digs, 14.4 per match.
Makenna Lovely, Adena, outside hitter, No. 4: Lovely is dangerous anytime a ball sails her way. She can set, she can put the ball on the floor and she can swing with both hands, frustrating opposing defenses. During the Warriors’ three-game tournament run, Lovely has been one of the team’s most consistent producers. She’s got 47 kills and 73 digs in the postseason.
Alli McQuay, Wheelersburg, opposite hitter, No. 5: After being named the SOC II’s Player of the Year, McQuay doubled down with District 14 Player of the Year honors. If you’ve watched her play, you know those awards have been earned. The Pirates’ senior captain leads the team with 225 kills alongside a team-high 40 aces. She’s also been consistent on defense, totaling 168 digs and 31 blocks.
Kylee Barney, Wheelersburg, middle hitter, No. 12: Over the second half of the season, Barney has been one of the hottest players in Southern Ohio. She’s almost caught up to McQuay in the kills department with 222 of them and she, by far, is the team’s best defender at the net with 93 blocks to date. You can’t teach height and Barney’s 6-foot-2 frame leads to touches and deflections other players simply can’t get. The Warriors will have to find a way to hit around her.
1. The Pirates bring in a 70-set win streak and haven’t lost a set since their season-ending loss to Tuscarawas Valley on Nov. 1, 2018. They were also undefeated coming into that match, standing at 26-0. Over the past three seasons, the team’s overall record is 74-4.
2. Wheelersburg has won three consecutive district titles while Adena is enjoying its first district championship since 2016. The last time the Warriors were in a regional semifinal, they beat Southeastern in four sets before a loss in the Elite Eight to Tuscarawas Valley.
3. Standing at 18-7 overall, the Warriors have a 5-4 record outside of league play — they’ve beaten league foes Piketon and Zane Trace during their tourney run. Their five non-conference wins have come over Trotwood-Madison, Patriot Prep, Bishop Ready, Madison Plains and Nelsonville-York.