Tyler Hart, Contributor
CARROLL — South Webster’s record book will have to be broken open. There’s a new page that needs to be added.
The Jeeps (25-1) took home a piece of history on Saturday with a sweep of Newark Catholic — a 25-15, 25-22 and 25-13 score — in a Division IV regional final at Bloom-Carroll High School to become the program’s first-ever regional champion.
“These girls were here last year versus the same school,” South Webster coach Darcee Claxon said. “These girls believed they had what it takes to win at this stage. There was no doubt, and I think that’s what set the tone in the first set.”
After trailing 9-4 in the opening set, South Webster turned up the heat in a way that Newark Catholic had no answer for. That was in large part due to Maloney’s efforts. With Maloney’s displays of big strikes and situational touches on the ball, she helped guide the Jeeps on a 16-1 run to close out the set.
“At the beginning of the first set, we were nervous,” Maloney said. “But I think we needed to settle down and realize this was our game to play. Just had to play our style.”
After absorbing the big punch of the Jeeps in the first set, Newark Catholic showed some fight and stayed within striking distance throughout the entire second set.
But late in the sequence, the Green Wave held a 20-18 lead. However, powering efforts and a 4-0 run by the Jeeps put them ahead 22-20, forcing Newark Catholic to call a timeout.
Then, with a 24-22 lead, a setup from Bella Claxon to Bri Claxon closed out the second to bring the Jeeps one set closer to victory.
“I told my assistant that I feel it. I feel like it’s in our grasps right now,” Darcee Claxon said. “I wanted the girls fresh and focused. I attribute the great leadership of our seniors and the fact that it doesn’t matter who gets recognized, they all love each other.”
Behind that great senior group and an energetic crowd, South Webster kept Newark Catholic on their toes with an impressive 11-0 run right out of the gates in the third.
That start appeared to be the death blow as the Green Wave realized that is was simply overmatched. The Jeeps continued to apply the pressure and closed out the set, claiming the program’s first regional championship.
Maloney led the team statistically with 20 kills while Bri Claxon added six of her own alongside 14 digs and six aces. Graci Claxon had a team-high 15 digs, Rylee McGraw added four kills and three digs, Skylar Zimmerman tallied 12 digs, and Bella Claxon finished with nine digs and 31 assists.
“It’s amazing to think we are the only girls team in our school to go to state,” Maloney said. “As a senior class, we have been looking forward to this moment since our freshman year and it’s so amazing to have our whole community come out and support us.”
The Jeeps now advance to a Division IV state semifinal at 6 p.m., Thursday at Wright State University. They’ll matchup with New Knoxville, who defeated Tiffin Calvert in four sets to move on.
“Honestly, from a volleyball aspect, it’s our serve receive,” Graci Claxon said. “If our serve receive is good, then we’ll be fine.”