Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — Some players graduate without knowing what it feels like to win a district title.
When Wheelersburg’s five seniors graduate, they won’t know what it feels like to not win one.
The Pirates, led by those seniors, swept Nelsonville-York on Friday by a 25-8, 25-16, 25-17 final in a Division III district final — capturing the program’s fourth consecutive district crown.
“Four straight district titles. It’s a blessing,” Wheelersburg coach Allen Perry said. “Just to have the talent and the work ethic in our core group of five seniors like we do, any coach would want to have that. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to coach them.”
Senior Kaylee Darnell also reached an individual milestone in the win. Darnell broke the school’s service point record, adding to her already long list of athletic accolades.
“It’s been a treat to coach Kaylee over the past four years. Give me six players like her on the court,” Perry said. “She never comes in with an off attitude. It’s never happened. She’s also played the most matches in school history. She didn’t play the first game of her freshman year. After that, I put her in and she hasn’t stopped starting since. Good things have come.”
The firt set was never close.
PHOTOS: Images from Wheelersburg’s sweep of Nelsonville-York
Wheelersburg (23-1), led by Darnell, Lauren Jolly and Ryleigh Meeker, started the night with a 10-3 run and took a 17-5 lead before sealing the deal on a 25-8 win.
The second saw more of the same as Jolly, Kylee Barney and Emily Boggs all got in on the action. The Pirates seized an 11-10 lead after trailing 6-3 early. Jolly and Barney later logged back-to-back kills to give ‘Burg a 20-12 lead en route to a 25-16 victory.
With Kiera Kennard at the service line, Wheelersburg darted out to a 5-0 lead in the third, which set the tone the rest of the way. Lyndsay Heimbach made it an 8-3 lead with an ace, Jaiden Missler went on a service run that pushed the lead to 17-13 and Madie Mays helped the Pirates put away a 25-17 win that secured a spot in the Sweet 16.
“Being a four-time district champion, it’s been such a blessing,” Jolly said. “All of my teammates, this wouldn’t have happened without them. We have so much fun in practices and games. All these girls just bring a lot of light into the team. I’m excited for regionals.”
Wheelersburg will now meet with either Tuscarawas Valley or Union Local, who play Saturday, in a Division III regional semifinal on Thursday. The place and time of the match has yet to be determined.
“Both of those teams are loaded. There’s a lot of talent there,” Perry said. “We have to put together a good game plan, execute it and we can’t give up, no matter who we play. I don’t think these girls have any give up in them. It’ll be a heck of a battle.”