Jenna Martin
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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: Adena readying for Independence in DIII state semifinal

Adena will meet with Independence in a Division III state semifinal at 2 p.m., Friday.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

DAYTON — For the first time since 2014, the Adena Warriors will be making a Final 4 appearance.

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

The Warriors (25-2) will now meet Independence (27-0) in a Division III state semifinal at 2 p.m., Friday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

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

Fast facts …

Friday’s state semifinal appearance marks the 10th in Adena’s program history. The Warriors have won two state titles — 1975 and 1976 — and have been the state’s runner-up twice — 2009 and 1993. Independence is making its fifth state semifinal trip and its fifth straight. The Blue Devils were the state’s runner-up in 2018 and 2019. Independence has lost 10 sets all year long — to teams with a combined record of 105-46. One of their 27 wins came against a Rocky River Magnificat, who will be playing in the Division I state championship game. Adena has ripped off 44 consecutive set wins. The last time the Warriors lost a set was on Sept. 18. The Warriors swept South Webster to begin their season on Aug. 28, who eventually played in the Division IV state semifinal match.

Adena’s Jenna Martin has posted 219 kills alongside 24 aces and 61 blocks. She’s a first-team All-Ohioan.
CREDIT: Marissa Spradlin/SOSA

Four names to know …

You won’t see many better than Adena’s Jenna Martin at the net. The first-team All-Ohio senior has posted 219 kills alongside 24 aces and 61 blocks. Meanwhile, senior Ellie Harper has been Martin’s running mate, totaling a team-high 238 kills to go along with 21 blocks, 82 digs, and 64 assists. When Martin and Harper play well, so do the Warriors. On Independence’s side of the net, freshman Aubrey Anders leads the attack with a team-high 234 kills. She’s one of six Blue Devils who have tallied 120-plus kills on the year. Senior Calli Prokopius is a force to be reckoned with as well. Her stat line this year includes 199 kills, 65 aces, 18 blocks, and 169 digs.

Potential X-factors …

Throughout Adena’s tournament run, junior Hannah Burns has been magnificent. In the past four games, Burns has boosted the offense with 27 kills and four aces while collecting nine blocks and 16 digs. She’s got a hot hand. Defensively, Camryn Carroll is the Warriors’ leader, and has been for quite some time. The senior leads the team with 377 digs and enters Friday’s matchup with 1,526 in her career. Senior Makaela Lovely is also a named to keep on your radar. The left-handed setter does it all as her 91 kills, 18 aces, 84 digs and 407 digs might highlight. It’s pick your poison with Independence. Grace Taliaferro and Sammy Barther are names to circle as the two have combined for over 330 kills, 40 aces, 40 blocks and 140 digs. The Blue Devils’ setter, Abby Avila, has amassed 882 assists this year, rounding her career total to 3,192 — a mark that’s good for sixth most in OHSAA history.

What Adena needs to do to win …

Rely on experience and absorb the punches. Independence is elite. There’s no other way to say it. But the Blue Devils aren’t unbeatable. The Warriors have prepared for this moment all year long. If they can keep calm when Independence goes on a run, side out and play their game, they’ll be in the thick of things. Makenna Lovely, Hope Garrison and the rest of Adena’s 10-member senior class will lead that charge.

What Indepedence needs to do to win …

Grab momentum early and don’t look ahead. If the Blue Devils can use their armoire of multiple deadly weapons to seize energy and a lead, it could take the wind out of Adena’s sails. The Warriors, however, will not back down from a challenge. It’s not in their persona. So a quick start could spell success for Independence. The Blue Devils are 27-0 for a reason. But the biggest mistake they could make is overlook a talented Adena roster. If Independence is already thinking about how they’re going to prepare for the state title game, that’s to the Warriors’ advantage.

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

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