According to Google Maps, the drive from Jonathan Alder High School to Licking Heights High School should take roughly 45 minutes without traffic.
That’s roughly eight minutes longer than it took the No. 1 seeded Pioneers volleyball team to dispatch of Division II district semifinal opponent Columbus West during a match played at Licking Heights Tuesday, Oct. 27.
The 25-4, 25-4, 25-14 victory punched the Pioneers ticket to the D-II district championship match where it will face No. 3 seed London Saturday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m. back at Licking Heights. The Red Raiders pushed their way past Bloom-Carroll in the other semifinal.
The Lady Pioneers (25-0) haven’t dropped a single set the entire season and the semifinal against West wasn’t going to be the first. Alder came out focused and determined to advance to its third straight district championship.
The first two sets Alder executed with laser-like precision, crisp passes, powerful shots at the net and an uptempo attack eliminated any chance of a West upset. But a third set where things weren’t nearly as smooth as they were in the first two gave coach Taryn Fuller the ammunition she needs to stay on top of a team sporting a perfect record.
“I was really proud of our discipline our first two games, we came out very focused and held them to four (points) in each,” Fuller said. “I think the last game we got loose a little bit, we didn’t quite play to our potential, so we’ll work on that. I was really proud of our kids for the way they started.”
Alder’s toughest competition of late has come from within. The squad has practiced hard and the coach said the intensity at practice has helped keep them sharp and hungry.
“We know that every game could be our last, we went into the week practicing like that,” she said. “We have had some intense practices since the regular season has ended. They have been intense. We had an inter-squad scrimmage that was intense, it was so competitive, I had to stop it.”
The Pioneers were led by their veterans, many of them were on the team in 2013 that won a district title and advanced to the regional. Most of this team was also on the squad that fell in the district championship match a year ago against Bloom-Carroll.
Getting up to play well against a team like West, a squad lacking the firepower to really challenge them, was never really an issue considering what the squad has in terms of goals for the season.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you have to be up and ready to play,” Fuller said. “It’s a district semifinal.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.