Tigers rally to win Unioto Invitational

By Brad Morris

Circleville coach Danielle Perkins has been waiting for that spark to ignite her volleyball team.

And that spark may have come during the deciding set of a championship match on Saturday at the Unioto Invitational.

“We faced adversity in the beginning of the day with things out of our control, which led to the girls ultimately coming together with fire and intensity,” she said. “We have been waiting for that spark this season and I felt it during our match against Unioto when we were down 19-14 in the third set.

“I called a timeout and reminded the girls of our goals and how we needed to lean on each other to make a comeback.”

The Circleville volleyball team poses for a team photo on Saturday with the championship hardware of the Unioto Invitational.

The Tigers closed the set on an 11-2 run to hand the host Shermans their first loss of the season and claim the invitational championship.

Perkins credited the play of the Tigers from the back row to their front row attack in having a perfect Labor Day weekend at Camp Sherman.

“Our defense was all over the play making huge plays and keeping the ball alive for our setters to distribute and our front row to put the ball away,” she said. “I’m very proud of my kids and the comeback they put together against Unioto.”

The Tigers dropped their first set of the day against the Shermans 16-25 but responded to win the second set by a 25-17 verdict to force the deciding set. Unioto fell to 7-1 on the season with the loss.

Morgan Blakeman put away 16 kills and also had 12 digs; Gabby McConnell tallied nine kills, 17 assists and 12 digs; Cara Cooper contributed six kills, 23 digs; Maddie Blakeman turned in six kills and 11 digs; Kayla Fleck had a pair of solo blocks; Maggie Gibson dished out 18 assists and Chandler Hayes finished with 14 digs.

The Tigers also posted wins of 25-12 and 25-21 against Portsmouth West and 25-18 and 25-20 over Chillicothe.

McConnell paced the Tigers with nine kills and 11 assists in the win over the Senators. Maddie Blakeman had seven kills; Cooper served three aces and had 10 digs; Morgan Blakeman made four solo blocks and chipped in 11 digs; Gibson distributed 11 assists and Hayes paced the defense with 14 digs.

Morgan Blakeman swung away for 10 kills and also had 11 digs against the Cavaliers. McConnell turned in eight kills; Hayes served three aces and also had eight digs; Cooper accounted for 10 digs and Natalie Keaton chipped in eight digs.

Logan Elm was also in action on Saturday in the invitational, losing three matches.

In a 25-27, 25-18 and 15-25 loss to Chillicothe, Addison Smith paced the Braves with nine kills, three aces; Claire King tallied seven kills, three aces; Ava Neff had six kills; Hannah Rhoads served three aces; Hannah Rhoads dished out 23 assists; Lynsay VanHoose paced the defense with 12 digs and Sadie Binkley added eight digs.

In a 23-25 and 16-25 loss to Portsmouth West, King led the way with nine kills and also had six digs; Smith had five kills; VanHoose tallied eight digs and Rhoads distributed 20 assists.

The Braves also fell 20-25, 25-22 and 25-14 to Waverly.

King put away 12 kills and chipped in three total blocks and 10 digs; Kennedy Groff served four aces; Sadie Binkley accounted for 12 digs and Rhoad distributed 20 assists and added eight digs.

Circleville (6-1) resumes Mid-State League Buckeye Division play on Tuesday when it travels to Logan Elm (1-7).

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