HEATH — After a nearly perfect season, the Lady Generals took their third and final loss of the season in their Regional Semifinal match against Dover on Oct. 31.
Sheridan lost in three sets to the Lady Tornadoes, who were questionable as to their level of play as their offense was something Sheridan had seen before.
In the first set, the Lady Generals were throwing their bodies across the court to dig for saves and keep the score going back-and-forth.
When the Lady Tornadoes took a small lead of 7-5, Ally Perkins alternated her offense between tips and hard spikes on the outside corner to bring Dover’s lead to one point.
Faith Stinson, once again, established and controlled the middle, front-line as she tipped the ball to Dover’s unguarded ground after a long volley and tied 8-8.
Stinson found a 10-10 tie as her body length got on top of the ball to spike down her hit hard from the right corner.
Dover worked on their defense to hold Sheridan to 13 points as they grew their lead to 18, then had the 19-13 lead and the second timeout of the set.
After a few months of injury, Kendyl Mick came in for a hot second in the middle of the set to give Sheridan some more power on the outside corner.
Dover brought their lead to the 20’s, despite Sheridan’s plan with Mick and Perkins guarding the corners.
With a 19-24 score, Stinson assisted in Sheridan’s point value with a hard spike to bring the score to 20-24.
With one more point given to Dover by a serve out-of-bounds by Stinson, Dover took the first set, 25-20, over the Lady Generals.
The Lady Tornadoes took a three-point lead, right off the bat, in the second set, but Stinson tipped again for Sheridan’s first point of the set.
Dover kept a small, but sure lead over Sheridan as they were anticipating Perkins’ spikes, which were helpful to Sheridan as her hits brought the scores to 6-8, then 7-9 and 9-10, but Dover still ahead.
Head coach Mandy Fox said Perkins was the reason Sheridan got the kills they had, she was solid on the corner.
In came Mick again, but Dover climbed with a lead to 12-22 and 13-22.
Fox brought in her substitutions at this point, just to see what could happen for her girls.
Erin Schultz and Brooklyn Heller then became walls at the front line and blocked multiple shots in a row.
Sheridan used cheap hits for a little to get their points growing with small tips over the net.
Sheridan’s defensive player, Julia Finck, showed she had a little offensive skill as her set over the net fell to unguarded ground and gave Sheridan a 17-22 score.
Heller moved across in the air to get a pushover tip next to bring the score to 18-22.
Dover then shot a hard spike to gain 23 points over Sheridan’s 18, and then gained another point by an unreturned serve to get their 24th point.
Schultz and Grace Conrad gave Sheridan their 19th point as they worked together to block Dover’s spike and watched it fall to the ground on Dover’s side.
Perkins blocked for Sheridan’s 20th point, but her spike was too hard as it went out-of-bounds and gave Dover their 25th point and set win.
The third set, again, showed Sheridan and Dover going back and forth in a close set, following with Mick coming in earlier than expected.
Fox said she was using Mick as a tactic to block and get some kills for Sheridan.
“She hasn’t been playing for a while, and I knew that if this was it, we had to get her on that court and give her some senior time,” she mentioned.
“She was practicing all week prior and was starting to push harder and get some kills for us and set up some blocks.”
“She’s a solid player.”
Sheridan took the first lead of the set with Stinson at the front line again and Perkins gaining points by spikes to give their Lady Generals an 8-5 lead.
The third set brought multiple ties, from 9 to 10 and 13 to 14, and then Dover grew their lead to 17-14 over Sheridan.
It seemed as though Dover saved their power until this set as their spikes, even though Sheridan could dig to attempt a block, were too powerful and bounced across the gym and into the bleachers off of a Lady Generals’ arms.
A few of those brought the set score to 16-20 with Dover still in the lead, but Bailey Beckstedt’s astonishing dig gave Sheridan their 17th point.
A net serve from Grace Dowdell gave Dover the lead of 17-22, and then a mistake by the Lady Tornadoes put the ball out of their own side to give Sheridan 18 points.
Schultz took control with blocking at the net, but Dover retaliated by blocking Perkins’ hard spikes, which was an offensive strategy Sheridan was counting on.
With an 18-23 score, Perkins worked her hit around Dover’s front line and got a 19th point with a hard spike that was too quick for Dover to defend back into play.
Stinson came alive again as she pounded down the 20th point, but Dover gained their 24th point with a hit over Sheridan’s blockers.
Stinson took Sheridan’s point value to 21 with another hard hit, but Dover worked around Sheridan’s blockers again for their final 25th point and set win.
Fox reported it was a loss because Sheridan did not lead the sets or game.
“We’d make errors and give them those points,” she stated.
After their loss in the Regional Semifinals last year, in the same gym, Sheridan had to face the same puzzle this season.
Fox said they had their goals set this year, and they succeeded in every goal, except getting through to the next bracket of Regionals.
“I am sick of losing in this gym, in this game,” she mentioned.
At the beginning of the season, Fox said this year’s group of girls was one of unity; it was something special.
She told The Perry County Tribune, before the season’s first match, that she enjoyed this year’s team because she loved seeing them everyday; there was no downside to seeing her girls.
After their loss, Fox said that she had to face the hard part now, not seeing them.
“To think about not seeing them everyday is sad because they are such a phenomenal group of girls,” she said.
“Outside of volleyball, they are all just amazing.”
“Losing is one thing, but not seeing them everyday is a whole different feeling.”
The Lady Generals finished their season with a 24-3 record.
Grace Conrad: 100-percent Serving, 27 Assists, 14 Digs
Ally Perkins: 11 Kills, 5 Digs
Faith Stinson: 10 Kills
Julia Finck: 100-Percent Serving, 16 Digs
Brooklyn Heller: 2 Kills, 14 Digs
Set Scores: 20-25; 20-25; 21-25