LIBERTY-BENTON — Shawnee’s volleyball team may have finished their season on Wednesday night with a losing record, but one would have a difficult time convincing head coach Amy Knight it wasn’t a successful season.
“It’s been so long since a team from Shawnee made it this far,” Knight said. “I think it’s been seven years since our volleyball team made it to districts. They have nothing to regret, nothing to be ashamed of, because I am certainly proud as can be.”
Eastwood won in three straight sets 25-20, 25-13, 25-20. They will play the winner of the Defiance/Rossford matchup at 6 p.m. Saturday in the district finals.
Despite the big difference in records, the two teams looked evenly matched in sets one and three. Shawnee fell behind early in set one, spending the rest of the set clawing back into contention but never quite getting all the way back to even score.
“We wanted to start fast,” Eastwood coach Jeff Beck said. “We’re normally very slow starters. So we wanted to get going early. We wanted to shut down number 18 (Bethany Pohjala). We knew she was a great player, so we worked on things specific to her in practice.”
In the second set, the difference in record began to show itself. Points began to come a lot easier for Eastwood, and Shawnee looked overwhelmed.
The Indians were able to turn it around in the third set, jumping to a 13-8 lead. Later in the match, however, Eastwood put together an 8-2 run that put them in the lead for good.
“They came to life in the third,” Beck said. “They really picked it up as a team, and it showed with the score.”
Pohjala was again the leader in kills for Shawnee, finishing with eight. Ashlee King and Lauren May were right behind her with six kills apiece. King also got 12 assists for the Indians, while Ashley Strawn added 11 more assists. Shay Wilkerson finished with two aces.
Elise Wolff led Eastwood with 16 kills and 13 digs. Ericka Lavoy added five aces and 16 digs, while Jaci Juergens finished with 28 assists and 11 digs.
Shawnee finishes the season 8-17.
“We wanted to play hard,” Knight said. “They had a lot of momentum and a lot of excitement. You reach that middle part of the season where you’re losing a lot more than you’re winning, and it’s tough to dig out of that hole. But they dug themselves out and surpassed what I think a lot of people expected them to do.”