High school volleyball: Eagles' historic run ends

ELIDA — Monroeville’s magical run through the state tournament finally came to an end Thursday night.

The Eagles (22-4), playing in Monroeville’s first regional semifinal in any girls sport in school history, fell to McComb (26-0), 25-19, 25-17, 16-25, 25-14, in a Division IV regional semifinal.

Despite the loss, Monroeville coach Kendra Snook was happy with the way her team played on the big stage.

“I told the team I was proud of them for getting here,” she said. “Making school history is a huge feat. I also was proud that they came out and competed.”

The Eagles quickly found themselves in a hole to the No. 2-ranked team in the state. The Panthers showed why they are undefeated by taking Game 1, 25-19.

It was more of the same in Game 2, as McComb cruised to a 25-17 win to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

Still, Snook and the Eagles didn’t panic.

“I completely believed in my team from point one,” Snook said. “Even with us going down one, going down two, that’s what we continue to talk about: Believing in themselves.

“The reason you play these games is you need to see the outcome.”

Much like they did against St. Paul last week in a district final, the Eagles found new life in Game 3. Suddenly it was Monroeville finishing off rallies, as they breezed to a 25-16 win.

“I thought we started digging a lot more balls (in Game 3),” Snook said. “We played very good defense and in that game the long volleys were ending in a point for us, and not a point for them.”

The Eagles’ victory in Game 3 was just the third set the Panthers had lost all season long.

In Game 4, McComb got back on track.

“We didn’t stop playing. We made them earn every single point they got in Game 4,” Snook said. “I think we made them just mad enough that they were ready to go.”

McComb opened up a 10-4 lead quickly in the fourth game, which Monroeville led just once at 2-1. The Eagles appeared to tighten up with everything on the line, and the Panthers were ready to pounce.

As usual, junior Quinn Schafer was solid for the Eagles, both in serving and setting. Schafer was 17 of 17 on serves with two aces and was nearly perfect on setting, going 136 of 137 attempts with 38 assists.

Breanna Kramer led Monroeville with 26 digs and 17 kills.

Snook believes the historic season could just be a sign of things to come from her young squad.

“We have a lot coming back,” she said. “We have three great seniors, which we will definitely miss, but we play a lot of sophomores and juniors. Also, our JV team was undefeated. Our eighth-grade team lost one match all year and was conference champions. Our seventh grade team was second in the conference.

“We have a lot of young talent that continues to work hard, and they were here (in the stands) tonight because they want to eventually get here too.”

Though Thursday’s game was over a two-hour drive from Monroeville, the Eagles side of the stands was packed with students, alumni and family. They were also quite loud cheering for their team.

“I could not have been more excited, or more grateful, for our fans,” Snook said. “Our students had a pep rally (Thursday) at 12:30. There aren’t very many times you have pep rallies for volleyball teams. If you looked on our side, all you saw were Monroeville fans.

“This community really believed in us. It didn’t matter what part of the game it was, these fans were cheering for these kids.”

Last Updated: 10/31/2013 10:41:23 PM EST

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