By TIM CLEVELAND
Salem and West Branch played each other fairly even Tuesday night during a Division II district semifinal. While all three games were mostly competitive, the Quakers put together a run each time for a 25-19, 25-20, 25-18 victory at Boardman High School.
Salem played and defeated the Warriors twice during the regular season. Quakers coach Allie Winner said that wasn’t necessarily an advantage to her team.
“I think yes and no,” she said. “We knew about them coming in, which was a positive. Playing a team three times sometimes can be a little tough. I just hoped my girls didn’t take it lightly. They came in and played tough and finished in three.”
West Branch coach Penny DeShields said her team made too many errors to win.
“We just had too many missed points,” she said. “We’d got to (within) 10-11 we’d miss a serve; crucial situations. Same thing, got to (to within) 14-16 missed a serve. We gave up a six-point and a four-point run in the middle of the game and you can’t do that and win against a good team like Salem. They have hitters and they have a good team.”
In Game 1, Salem (18-6) had an 11-8 lead but went on a 10-4 run to take control. Camrin Costal had consecutive kills for a 16-9 lead, then she added another to make it 18-11.
“I think we played really well,” Costal said. “Everybody really picked it up and we were ready for tips and ready for quick stuff and everybody was on their toes.”
Winner said Costal not only played well, but she also took a leadership role.
“I think that Camrin overall just played very consistent, not only on offense but on defense, too,” Winner said.
“She’s very loud and motivates others. Being a senior in tournament time, she’s really pumped up.”
In the second game, Maria Shivers had a kill to give Salem a 16-9 lead. After Kay Lee Manning served five consecutive points to pull West Branch (9-15) to within 23-20, Shivers had back-to-back kills to clinch the game for the Quakers.
“My brother came home this weekend, and with the whole town coming together to cheer us on really helps,” Shivers said.
Shivers was back at it for Salem in Game 3, as she had a kill to give her team a 17-11 lead.
Costal had three during a stretch that the Quakers took a 23-15 advantage. Costal added one more kill then served the match-clinching point.
Salem will play Crestwood Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for the district championship.
“We’re really excited,” Shivers said. “This has been a major goal for us all year. Just to get to this point is ... we’re really pumped about it.”