COVINGTON — It was gain one, lose one for Fort Loramie in a Division IV sectional final on Wednesday in Covington.
The gain was sophomore middle hitter McKenzie Hoelscher, who played in her second match since returning from a fractured vertebrae and had seven kills and two blocks to help the No. 6 seed Redskins earn a 25-17, 25-16, 25-20 victory over No. 3 Franklin-Monroe.
Hoelscher, a sophomore middle hitter, is one of several Fort Loramie players who have missed time this season with injuries.
Hoelscher’s help was needed in the front row as Fort Loramie played without freshman outside hitter Ava Sholtis. Sholtis rolled her ankle on Monday.
“We were laughing a little because at this point, it’s like ‘What’s next?’ Fort Loramie coach John Rodgers said of Sholits’ injury. “I don’t know what her status is going to be, but we’ve got girls that come in and can do the job. I’m real pleased with their effort coming in. They did a great job out there tonight. It’s next man up for us.”
The multiple injuries contributed to Fort Loramie struggling to a 10-12 record in regular season. They’re now 13-12 after winning three sectional matches by 3-0 scores and will play in their 11th consecutive district final on Saturday in Troy against Lehman Catholic (17-8).
“I think it was kind of hard for everyone this season with having to have that next-up mentality like Coach is always saying,” Hoelscher said. “It was hard, but I think every one filled their spots really well. We kept pushing through during the season and I’m glad that now is the time we’re peaking.”
Hoelscher, who’s also a basketball standout, said she was dealing with back pain throughout preseason. She said she felt almost completely healed in a 3-2 win over Versailles on Sept. 1, during which she had a season-high 12 kills.
She could barely move two days later and didn’t take the court again until last Saturday’s sectional semifinal win over Dayton Christian.
“At first I was just like ‘whatever’ and thought it was pain, and then I got the MRI results a little after that and it was just devastating,” Hoelscher said. “Volleyball’s one of my favorite sports and I didn’t want to sit out that long. But I thought about (senior defensive specialist) Hannah (Pleiman), who’s out for six months because of her ACL. So I was just trying to keep positive and trying to get back and help.”
Hoelscher played one set against the Warriors on Saturday and played a bit more against the Jets on Wednesday.
“We’re easing into it,” Hoelscher said. “It’s kind of like a new season. I was in pain most of the time before (the diagnosis), and it’s so different to play volleyball without the pain. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m starting to grow already, even though it’s towards the end of the season.”
Though the Jets (18-4) proved resilient and never let Fort Loramie build much of a large lead, they fell behind early in each set and were forced to try to play catch-up the rest of the way.
Junior outside hitter Marissa Meiring led Fort Loramie with 13 kills while Kyla Holthaus had eight and Chloe Stang had six. Maya Maurer had 19 assists and Aleah Frilling had 12, while Emily Austin had 13 digs and Meiring had eight.
Rodgers said he was pleased to see the team play well against a quality opponent after two relatively easy sectional wins against Bradford and Dayton Christian.
“My girls played great tonight,” Rodgers said. “They came out with energy and they pushed the pace and were up-tempo. That really played into our favor tonight. …You always wonder how we’re going to respond (after playing lesser-quality teams), and I was happy to see us pick right back up and play like we did during the season as far as the speed of the game”
Fort Loramie has won district titles each of the last 10 years and will go for an 11th against the Cavaliers on Wednesday.
“Lehman is even much better than Franklin-Monroe I believe after watching them and scouting both teams,” Rodgers said. “Lehman is a historic program. I was actually joking with (Lehman coach) Greg (Snipes) at the tournament draw that the district final round I think is the only one we’ve never played each other.
“It will be a really good match I think. I’m really excited for it.”
Anna 3, West Liberty-Salem 0
Anna earned a spot in its fourth consecutive Div. III district final with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-13 win over West Liberty-Salem on Wednesday in Brookville.
The Rockets (17-8) advance to face Cincinnati Madeira (15-8) in a district final on Saturday at Northmont.
Emma Meyer led the Rockets with 19 kills while Macy Wiktorowski had 11 and Sierra Williams had nine. Lauren Barhorst had three block assists. Lexi Wells had 47 assists and Abby Counts had 19 digs.
Southeastern 3, Riverside 1
Riverside lost in a Div. IV sectional final 17-25, 26-24, 25-11, 25-23 on Wednesday in Covington.
Lauryn Sanford had a team-high 14 kills and seven aces while Shelby Giles had 14 digs. Sierra Snow had 15 assists and Courtnie Smith had six digs.
“We fought every step of the way,” Riverside coach Kerri Meade said.
The Pirates finish 9-15 overall. They’ll lose three seniors to graduation, including Smith and Giles (a first team all-Northwest Central Conference selection).
Coaches can report results for Sidney Daily News’ daily roundups by sending scores, statistics and comments as soon as possible after games to firstname.lastname@example.org.