By Brad Morris
LOGAN — Unioto ran off the final seven points of a Division II Southeast District semifinal match on Monday to stun top-seeded Circleville 25-19, 16-25, 25-17, 18-25 and 15-10 inside Logan High School.
Including games played during conditioning over the summer, Monday marked the fifth time that the Tigers and Shermans clashed on the court. In their only regular-season meeting in the championship of the Unioto Invitational, Circleville rallied from a 19-14 deficit in the decisive third set to win 16-25, 25-17 and 25-21.
Unioto figured that turnabout was fair play.
The Tigers jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the decisive set, led in part by a pair of kills from Morgan Blakeman and an ace courtesy of Maggie Gibson.
Unioto came back to tie the set at 7-7, but Circleville jumped back out ahead and claimed a 10-8 advantage, thanks to a pair of kills from Gabby McConnell and a diving dig from Gibson that kept a rally alive.
That turned out to be the final point of the season for the Tigers, as three hitting errors opened the door for the Shermans to take charge. A pair of kills Jade Stewart closed out the set and allowed the Shermans (19-5) to earn a spot in Saturday’s district final at Southeastern against New Lexington.
Circleville had to battle back twice, taking sets two and four to ultimately force the decisive fifth set.
The Tigers opened the second set on a 5-0 run highlighted by a pair of aces from Chandler Hayes and two kills courtesy of Morgan Blakeman.
Circleville led by no fewer than three points the rest of the way and eventually built a 20-11 advantage that included a kill from Maddie Blakeman followed by a solo block by Morgan Blakeman to close a run of five consecutive points. A kill by McConnell eventually earned set point that the Tigers converted on a hitting error by the Shermans.
The Tigers opened up an 8-4 lead in the fourth set and led by no fewer than three points the rest of the way. A kill from McConnell gave the Tigers set point that Cara Cooper put away to send a district semifinal to the fifth and decisive set.
Circleville concludes its season with a 20-4 record and loses seniors Cooper, Chandler, Gibson, Morgan Blakeman, Natalie Keaton, Allie Jones and Alexis Vanfossen to graduation.
“The legacy, leadership and foundation that our senior class set for Circleville volleyball will be remembered for years to come,” Circleville coach Danielle Perkins said. “I am so proud that I was able to coach all of these girls this season.”