BROOKVILLE — The end of the season came sooner than expected for Preble Shawnee’s volleyball team.
The Arrows, winners of the Western Ohio Athletic Conference, were looking to make another deep run in the post-season.
Last season, Shawnee reached the district final for the first time over three decades.
The Arrows were looking to duplicate that feat or go further this season.
Coming into its Division III district semifinal match as the No. 3 seed and with a 22-1 record, Shawnee fell a couple of points shy as No. 5 Kettering Archbishop Alter handed the Arrows just their second loss of the season in a thrilling five-set match at Brookville High School 22-25, 26-24, 21-25, 27-25, 15-10 on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
To reach the district semis Shawnee beat Anna 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-16 on Monday, Oct. 24 in the sectional final.
“It was really a battle. We pushed hard the whole time,” Shawnee coach Josh Evans said. “We dwelled on a few mistakes which hurt us in those few games and they’re a great team. It could have gone either way. Our game plan worked from time to time and whenever it was working, we were on fire when it wasn’t we were getting down on ourselves and just let them battle back.”
After winning the first set, the Arrows grabbed control of the second set and looked on their way to taking a 2-0 lead, being up 17-10.
Alter closed to 19-17 and eventually evened the set at 21-all. Shawnee reclaimed the lead at 24-22 and had set point but back-to-back hitting errors let the Knight back in. An ace and a ball handling error ended the set in Alter’s favor.
Shawnee regrouped and took a 10-3 lead in the third set. Alter closed within two on three occasions, but the Arrows held on for a 2-1 lead.
In set three, Shawnee battled from behind early and eventually tied the set. Trailing 23-21 the Arrows rallied to tie it at 23-23.
Alter took a 24-23 on a kill that looked wide.
Shawnee retook the lead at 25-24 on back-to-back miscues by the Knights.
At match point, Shawnee hit the ball long to make it a 25-25 contest. Another hitting error and an Alter ace sent the match to a fifth set.
In the deciding set, the Arrows were up 5-3 before Alter went on a 6-0 run to take a 9-5 lead. Shawnee never got closer than three the rest of the set.
“It was it was definitely tough,” Evans said. “Some of the game is still a blur. There’s a lot of times where we were down four, they were up four, they were down four. It was just it was back and forth the whole time. The match point in the fourth game those are always hard to take. But when you play a great team like that, they’re going to try to fight for every point they did.”
Despite the loss, Evans said his team accomplished a lot this season and should be proud.
“This season’s been amazing, full of records, milestones, league championships. I’m sure with all the honors we’ve already brought home I’m sure will bring home some more honors this weekend,” Evans said. “It’s been amazing this group of girls, not just our seniors, not just the starters, the whole program has been amazing. It’s been a big turnaround, especially at the JV level. The JV level had a big turnaround this year. The future’s bright for this program as long as they keep pushing.”
Shawnee will graduate senior Harlee Howard, Liv Thompson, Cora Neihoff and Cameron Cline.
“My seniors, that’s a hard group to talk about,” Evans said. “I know I’ve talked about them so many times. But being the last time we’re on a court together, it’s going to be hard. They have meant so much to this program, not just as players but as leaders.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.