MARTINS FERRY — Both Toronto head coach Lori Lynn Jackson and Monroe Central head coach Jeanette Schwall are aware of the sports stereotype that it’s difficult to beat a team three times.
Toronto will certainly confirm that it’s tough. However, the Red Knights have proven that it is not impossible.
After seeing five match points fall in the fourth set, Toronto regained momentum and escaped Martins Ferry High School’s Tolbert Gymnasium with a five-set win over the Seminoles 22-25, 25-22, 25-. 21, 24-26 and 15-11.
“I’ve only been nervous a few times this season, but every time we’ve played Monroe Central, it’s been one of them.” Jackson said. “All our games (against Monroe) were important games and they are very good.”
The Red Knights defeated the Seminoles in their regular season matchup. They then won in four sets in the OVAC Class 2A semifinals and that set the stage for Wednesday’s epic five-setter.
“All sets were tight against them, even in the first when we won in three,” Jackson said. “I had rewatched our games against them and I knew it was going to be tough.”
The win sends Toronto into the Division IV district championship game against top seed Shenandoah at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Clairsville High School.
The Seminoles seemed like they would get the better of them against Toronto. However, after seeing Monroe Central close with the last seven points of the fourth set, the Knights couldn’t break.
“It was an absolute team effort,” Jackson said. “We have a bunch of fearless underclassmen. We had a number of different players who stepped up and really took control in key situations.”
Monroe Central focused on doing everything in its power to limit the big swing opportunities for junior standout Hannah Dobbs. The University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) signing still had plenty of chances, but when the Seminoles made their late run in fourth place, Dobbs was on the back row.
Still, Dobbs filled the stat sheet with 24 kills and 39 digs. She also had four blocks and brought boundless energy to the court that her teammates seemed to be feeding on.
Michelle Anderson added 15 kills and 27 digs. Riley Fisher had 35 digs, Callie Anderson 18, and Chloe Fisher 10. Andrea Reeves dished out 50 assists. Ashton Thomas was a force at the net with 15 blocks.
The Seminoles, on the other hand, see their season ending at 14-9.
“We did our best to prepare for Hannah Dobbs and when you have that much talent you do your best to prepare and I thought we were as prepared as we could possibly be.” said gush. “I couldn’t have asked for more heart and guts for the fourth game, and that’s what I try to teach my kids. It’s not always about winning. It’s about the heart you put into it and holding your head up at the end because you left everything on the pitch.”
The Seminoles were led by Abby Thompson’s 11 kills and 14 blocks. Grace Swisher had 10 kills and 10 blocks. Kynzi Bishop had seven kills and two aces.
Karlie Haslam had 18 assists and six grabs. Kyra English recorded 15 digs. Maclarin Craft had 19 digs and two aces. Jacey English had 11 digs and three aces. Olivia Bettinger had 12 blocks and five kills.
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