Southern falls to St. Thomas in volleyball district final

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WYTV) – The Southern Indians volleyball team met the St. Thomas Aquinas Knight for the third time in as many years in today’s district final at Columbiana High School. Unfortunately, they fell to the same fate as the previous two years.

The Knights overpowered the Indians in four sets, winning the first two 25-18, and 25-22, before the Indians captured the third 25-17. But the Knights closed the match with a dominating fourth set victory 25-15.

The Knights improved to 22-3 on the season as they will meet Beverly Fort Frye at Lake High School on Thursday night in a regional semi-final. The Indians close the season with a 24-1 record.

“This season was tremendous,” Indians coach Robert Shansky stated. “Our problem today, we just couldn’t pass as well as we normally do. The third game we did what we had to do. In the third game, we did what we had to do.”

The Knights captured a see-saw first set as they closed it with a 9-2 run after it was tied at 16. They would go on to win the second set 25-22, but it didn’t occur till after the Indians were down 11-6 at one point and battled back to take a 20-19 lead.

“In those two games, you can’t get down against a team like this that far and then come back. In game two we almost did,” Shansky explained. “When your down 8-2, 11-2, it’s an uphill battle, but give the kids credit, they did.”

That ferocious come back by the Indians seemed to give them momentum going into the third set as they won it 25-17. But the Knights stormed back in the fourth and final set as they jumped out to a 10-2 advantage and rolled to a 25-15 win.

“We had the moment going into game three and it carried on,” Shansky said. “Coming into game four they stepped it up and we were unable to pass the ball.”

For the Indians, it was still a memorable season. Something that was not lost on the Indians senior players.

“We are grateful for our season no matter the outcome (today),” senior Lizzie Willis remarked. “We had a wonderful season that something Southern Local had never had. We are just proud to be where we were.”

“I think we played great every game and we left everything out on the floor,” senior Alivia Brothers added. “We fought in this game, but we just didn’t push through. It was disappointing to lose, but we played great and tried our hardest. Everyone played up but we just couldn’t do it.”

“You can’t dwell on one loss,” Shansky continued. “I told them in the locker room. You have your life ahead of you, and if you’re a senior, become fine young women. Go out there and explore and be the best that you can be. Don’t think back in years to come or even tomorrow about today. Think about the other 24 (wins).”

“They had some really good hitters that we had to prepare for,” St. Thomas coach Alyssa Thewes said of the Indians. “Volleyball out this way is different than how we play in and around Stark County in that it’s more scrappy and here it is more clean and crisp. So it was nice to adjust and come up with a new game plan.”