South Webster 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.

STATE VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: South Webster readying for New Knoxville in DIV state semifinal

South Webster will meet with New Knoxville in a Division IV state semifinal at 6 p.m., Thursday.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

SOUTH WEBSTER — For the first time in school history — and for the firs time in any girls sport — South Webster will be making a Final 4 appearance.

Coach Darcee Claxon’s group earned that right with a sweep of Newark Catholic this past Saturday after breezing through through sectional, district and regional play behind a group of battle-tested veterans.

The Jeeps (25-1) will now meet New Knoxville (25-2) in a Division IV state semifinal at 6 p.m., Thursday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

Here’s everything you need to know before that matchup happens: 

Fast facts …

During the first regional championship run in school history, the Jeeps have been absolutely dominant, winning 15 of 16 sets played. They’ve lost seven sets all year long. New Knoxville is appearing in its third state semifinal appearance. The Rangers were the state’s runner-up in 2006 and won a regional title in 1989. They’ve lost 13 sets this year against teams with a combined record of 143-43. South Webster’s only loss came to Adena (3-0), a state semifinalist in Division III. New Knoxville’s two losses have been at the hands of Coldwater (2-0) and New Bremen (3-1) — the Rangers earned revenge with a 3-1 win over New Bremen in their regional title game. The Jeeps finished 16-0 in SOC play while the Rangers finished second in the Midwest Athletic Conference at 8-1.

South Webster handed Newark Catholic a straight set loss to advance to its first-ever state semifinal on Nov. 6, 2021.
CREDIT: Renee Nemeth/SOSA

Four names to know …

If you’re looking at list of players to watch and it doesn’t start with South Webster’s Faith Maloney, don’t trust it. Maloney has been as advertised all year long, totaling 362 kills, 52 aces, 54 blocks and 96 digs. She’s the unquestioned leader on the Jeeps’ roster. Meanwhile, Bri Claxon has been dangerous as well. The senior has aided the Jeeps with 315 kills, a team-high 91 aces and 279 digs. Both Maloney and Claxon are absolute game-changers. The most dangerous Ranger? Carsyn Henschen, a Duquesne University commit and the District 8 Player of the Year. Henschen has powered down 483 kills alongside 33 aces, 49 blocks and 197 digs. She’s a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, another Henschen has been her running mate. Avery Henschen is responsible for 311 kills, 34 aces, 32 blocks and 244 digs. Together, the senior Henschen duo accounts for 71.6 percent of the team’s kill total.

Potential X-factors …

While Maloney, Bri Claxon, Bella Claxon and Graci Claxon have often dominated headlines, Skylar Zimmerman and Rylee McGraw have also been imperative to the Jeeps’ success all year long. McGraw has been a force at the net, posting 106 kills and 27 blocks while Zimmerman has done a little bit of everything, tallying 97 kills, 31 aces and 264 digs. Any contributions from those two will welcome additions to a healthy offensive attack. New Knoxville’s runs through Ellie Gabel, who’s amassed 872 assists this year. The setter also boasts of 59 kills, 54 aces and 246 digs. The Rangers’ defense is solid. Haley Fledderjohann — not a typo — leads that unit with 262 digs alongside 138 digs, 32 aces and 114 assists. The senior has also received 216 serves this season and has made just six errors.

What South Webster needs to do to win …

Find a way to stop the Henschen attack. If Maloney, Bri Claxon and company can get their hands on the ball at the net, the Jeeps will have a shot. But it’s easier said than done. And as Graci Claxon said last week, serve receive will be critical for South Webster. If the defense can field the serve and make an effective pass to Bella Claxon at setter, the Jeeps’ offense will run smoothly. If that happens, Maloney, Claxon and McGraw will be able to do what they’re best at. That’s a huge key.

What New Knoxville needs to do to win …

Find Maloney and limit her production. If Maloney gets on a roll, it could spell trouble. Meanwhile, the Rangers need to keep an eye on Bri Claxon. If there’s any two names that are going to beat you, it’s Maloney and Claxon. Offensively, New Knoxville should and will rely on Carsyn and Avery Henschen. They’re a large reason why they’re playing in a state semifinal in the first place. You don’t need to fix what’s not broke. You will, however, have to hit around a host of Jeeps at the net.

SOSA will have full coverage from South Webster’s state tournament appearance on Thursday. You can follow live in-game updates at both @dw1509 and @SOSAOhio.

Share this post