OVAC Volleyball: Shadyside claims first crown in school history | News, Sports, Jobs

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Shadyside’s Tory Hendershot delivers a kill during Saturday’s OVAC 2A Championship victory over Shenandoah.

MORRISTOWN — Over half of the Shadyside volleyball team are seniors and juniors and they vividly recall losing to Shenandoah in the OVAC 2A Championship a year ago.

Those upperclassmen got their chance at redemption and they took it.

In a back-and-forth four-set match, the Tigers (18-2) upended the Zeps (11-11) by scores of 25-17, 18-25, 25-21 and 25-22 to secure their first OVAC 2A title in school history on Saturday at Union Local.

“They have worked so hard this year,” Shadyside coach Eric Mercer said of his championship team. “We played them last year in the final and they beat us so this is some great redemption for this group because we have a lot of ladies who remember that loss very keenly.

“So, it’s great for them and I’m just super proud of them. They played their hearts out.”

Shadyside came out of the gates with a purpose as Tory Hendershot delivered six straight points and the Tigers took a commanding 7-2 lead it did not relinquish.

The second set was a different story.

Shenandoah won the race to 15 and never looked back on its way to evening the match at 1-1.

“They are tough,” Zeps coach Megan Grywalski said of the Tigers. “The fact that we went four sets after the big difference in the first set was something. Then, the second set, coming out and playing that way — we have been on a roller coaster this year. We were inconsistent and I think that’s what hurt us this game.”

The Zeps were looking to keep that momentum going into the third set and they did as they grabbed a 13-10 edge but Hendershot, again, was their kryptonite.

Hendershot stepped behind the service line down 13-10 and rattled off five straight points to put the Tigers in front for good heading into the fourth set.

Shenandoah continued to battle — holding a 13-9 lead but a crucial timeout by Mercer rallied the Tigers, who came storming back.

“It starts with communication,” Mercer said. “I called timeout down 13-9 and just said ‘ladies, we have to start communicating again. Our energy has dropped, our communication stopped. We have to turn that around.’ Once we got that going again, we made a couple plays and made a run and hung on for the win.”

Kylie Baker’s serving also played a big role as she chalked up five straight points to turn a 16-13 deficit into a 19-16 lead.

She also took a pass from teammate Caroline Mercer and blistered it over the net for the game-ending and match-winning kill.

Mercer handed out 33 assists in the win, along with eight points.

Gentry Brown tallied 21 kills and seven points, while Hendershot delivered 15 points and seven kills, Baker amassed 10 points and seven kills and Baylee Wach and Paige Gorby each turned in four points and four kills for the Tigers.

“We lost four seniors last year and this group just plays well together,” Coach Mercer said. “They don’t get too excited. They are always as cool as a cucumber but when they get the energy going they can really play well and that’s what they did (Saturday).”

Mya Leach paced the Zeps with 14 kills, six points and seven digs, while Tara Pakes tallied nine points, four aces and six kills, Ryleigh Sherman garnered 31 assists and seven points and Makenna Clift added 10 digs and eight points.

Shenandoah also has no seniors on the team and just one junior, putting them in prime position to return for another shot at an OVAC title.

“We’ll be back,” Grywalski said. “I think we’ll see Shadyside again in the district finals. This is obviously very important but so is going to regionals, so we’ve got a chance to do that again.

“We’ve seen them now and know what they have and know what we are capable of.”

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