Waterford captures sectional crown in three sets
WATERFORD — A complete effort from Waterford propelled it to a 25-18, 25-11, 25-21 straight-set sweep of Symmes Valley on Wednesday night from the Harry Cooper Annex, and it gave the squad another Division IV Sectional crown in the process.
The victory sets up the Wildcats on a date with Trimble in the district semifinals. The Tri-Valley Conference Champion Trimble Tomcats took care of business in their sectional final, as Waterford (11-10) is hungry for revenge. In two matches between Trimble and the Wildcats, the top-seeded Tomcats came out on top in both matches on Sept. 28 and Oct. 9. It’s all about rising to the occasion, as head coach Kim Barker said following the sectional triumph. Speaking about how her team never gave up, Barker was happy with what she got out of the team.
“It feels great. This is a team, and we have had our ups and downs this season, but to see their fight and passion even from behind (early in the third set), but they’re determined to keep this season alive. I’m very, very proud of them.”
Waterford quickly made short work out of the first two sets, winning both in around 20 minutes each. However, the Vikings made a furious attempt to take set No. 3. The visitors reeled off seven points in a row to go up 7-1, when coach Barker took a timeout. Coming out of the brief break, Avery Wagner got the rally started with a kill.
It was all uphill from there.
The run was capped off how it started, with a Wagner kill. That made it 9-8 in favor of the ‘Cats, and Julia Cooper joined in with another kill of her own. A pair of kills from Lily Roberts and aces from Cooper kept the distance, as Symmes Valley couldn’t fully recover down 16-11. On the night, Cara Taylor set the tone with 21 assists (and an additional nine digs) setting, while Wagner was the main beneficiary. She tallied ten kills, and the duo of Lily Franchino and Mackenzie Suprano combined for 15 digs. Maya Wilson and Mackenzie Pottmeyer were also Johnny-on-the-spot when tracking the ball as well.
It was the kind of win that builds momentum, and Trimble presents a challenge coach Barker says will need all hands on deck. Of her front line, she says she needed them to be aggressive and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them by Symmes Valley. That message still rings true, and she also told her middles to “be big at the net.” That resulted in the outcome the Wildcats needed to see, but Barker says it’s time to turn the page. Waterford travels on Monday to Glouster, where the Tomcats await.
“We’ve got to have confidence,” Barker said. “We played Trimble a couple weeks ago and beat them in a set, 25-10. This is a team that is fully capable of beating them, but we’ve got to show up and work for it. We’re going to take the next couple days, and focus on the little things. We’re going to approach them with confidence and with excitement.”
After the win, Taylor talked about her performance and how much it means to keep playing. Barker called Taylor a “floor general,” and it’s easy to see why that is the case. After the numbers she put up (which were added on to her already 2,000-plus career assists), Taylor took all the praise and put it on her teammates.
“Being a setter and being a senior, my position is to lead,” she said. “When I get the ball, that’s what I’m going to do. (The match against Trimble) is going to be hard, but we can’t shut down. No. 10 (Laikyn Imler) is their best outside hitter, and we’ve definitely done better with each time we’ve played them. (My assist numbers) are because of my teammates. The passers give me the right balls the hitters put them down. It’s all because of them.”
Contact Josh Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org