Monday, September 26, 2022

Independence earns third straight trip to state

BARBERTON—Independence’s 3-0 win over Crestwood in a Division III regional championship game at Barberton High School on Saturday was anything but easy.

While the Blue Devils advanced to the state Final Four for the third straight season with a 25-23, 25-23, 25-15 win, the Red Devils—future members of the Chagrin Valley Conference—gave Independence all it could handle.

“It was a war,” Messina said. “It was everything I thought we’d get from them.”

Messina got a preview of Crestwood on Thursday in the first of the two regional semifinals played at Barberton.

Crestwood beat Applecreek Waynedale in four sets to advance to Saturday’s championship game.

“We watched them the other night and I did my homework,” Messina said. “I knew they were scrappy. They’re a different type of team than we are. I’m not saying they play off-script but they do a great job playing off-script. Every ball is coming back. They were awesome.”

Throughout the season, Independence overwhelmed most opponents with a powerful offense. The Blue Devils still hammered home balls throughout the match but the Red Devils and their scrappy defense returned many balls that otherwise would have hit the floor and they played with a tenacity that kept them in each set.

Independence opened the first set with an 11-point lead and looked well on its way to another dominating win.

The Red Devils rallied back to tie the match at 23-23 before Independence scored the final two points to take a 1-0 lead.

In the second set, there were 18 lead changes before the Blue Devils once again scored the final two points to go up 2-0.

Independence controlled the third set to win the match.

“The girls came back and battled,” Messina said. “I’m very proud of how they played.”

The Blue Devils, who improved to 23-4 on the year, will play Wheelersburg (27-0) in Thursday’s state semifinals at Wright State University in Dayton.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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