Westfall Mustangs volleyball
Derrick Webb

Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Westfall fights off Wheelersburg to punch Elite 8 tickets

The Mustangs will now meet with SVC rival Adena with a trip to a state semifinal on the line.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

LOGAN — Thanks to an unmatched energy and a never-say-die attitude, Westfall is one of the final eight Division III teams left standing in the state of Ohio.

Westfall’s Ashley Hegarty was instrumental in Thursday’s win over Wheelersburg.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

The Mustangs (22-4) fought off Wheelersburg, which gave the Mustangs everything they wanted and then some, in a Division III regional semifinal on Thursday by a 29-27, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21 final at Logan High School.

“I don’t think words really can describe how excited we are,” Westfall senior Hailey Young said. “We knew we had to come in here today and give it our all. We did not want this to be our last game. I think winning just shows everybody who we really are.”

The first set featured an expected start — a dogfight from start to finish.

After a seesaw beginning, the Pirates (21-4) seized an 11-10 lead and finished off an 8-1 run to extend their advantage to 18-12.

But Westfall would have none of it.

Led by Marissa Mullins, Hailey Young and Claire Latham, the Mustangs battled to cut the deficit to a single point at 21-20. After Catie Boggs and Madie Mays gave ‘Burg a 24-22 edge, WF fought to force a 24-24 tie.

Mullins tied the game again at 27-27 before Young and Ashley Hegarty logged two kills to give WF a 29-27 win and a 1-0 lead.

“Last year, we lost in this round so we thought enough was enough,” Hegarty said. “We watched film and talked a lot about this game. We just didn’t want to go home tonight. We didn’t want to be crying in the locker room after the game.”

More of the same style of play took place in the second and third sets.

Wheelersburg, behind a hard-swinging Lexie Rucker, took an 8-7 lead before Westfall pulled ahead at 12-11. The set was then tied at every turn until the Pirates took a 22-19 lead with a late 3-0 burst.

From there, Mays and Ryleigh Meeker teams up to even the match at 1-1 with a 25-20 victory.

“Coach [Stacy Caudill] just really put into perspective that we got into our own heads,” Young said. “We started playing their game and not ours. In a game like this, we need to stay on top and keep momentum. I think we did that well after [the second set].”

In the third, Young and Hegarty put the Mustangs ahead early at 10-7 before the Pirates tied the game at 15-15 on an ace from Rileigh Lang. Wheelersburg then took a 19-18 lead on a kill from Lyndsay Heimbach.

However, Mullins — the SVC Player of the Year — lived up to her billing in the front row late. The senior powered down a kill to give WF a 23-21 lead before logging a kill and a block to produce a 25-21 win and a 2-1 match lead.

The momentum that Mullins created with her efforts late in the third continued to gain steam into the fourth.

She teamed up with Latham, Hegarty and Young to put the Mustangs ahead 13-7 midway through. Wheelersburg would again throw a counter-punch but Westfall absorbed the blow.

The Pirates cut the lead to two points at 22-20 but Mullins then moved into the front row. And from there, as usual, she stepped into the limelight while punching her team’s ticket to the Elite 8 with a 25-21 win.

Westfall will now meet with SVC foe Adena in a Division III regional final at 2 p.m., Saturday at Logan. If the Mustangs are to win, it would be the program’s first appearance in a state semifinal since 2005.

“For so many years, we’ve had a mindset about going to play Adena,” Hegarty said. “It’s Adena. They’re a great team and they do a lot of good things. But I feel like that freaks us out a little bit. We have to go into that game knowing we’re just as good as they are. Adena is a really good team. But we just proved that we can beat really good teams.”

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