BARBERTON—With a 3-0 sweep of Salem in Thursday’s regional semifinal, Independence advanced and will defend its regional title on Saturday against Applecreek Waynedale.
The Blue Devils defeated the Quakers, 25-12, 25-19, 25-13, to improve to 23-3 on the year. The win was the 13th straight for the Blue Devils, who haven’t lost a set since Sept. 29.
“When we control the ball, which we did most of the time, and when we pressure the other team and serve aggressively, we’re a pretty good team,” Independence coach Tony Messina said. “I think we can play with anybody when we do that and our strength of schedule shows that.”
The match featured two of the state’s top-ranked team.
Salem entered ranked No. 6 in the final Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Division III state poll while Independence was No. 9.
The Blue Devils overwhelmed the Quakers from start to finish.
“We came into today and what I told the girls, we do have a lot of weapons and that’s why we play a 6-2. We need to pressure the other team,” Messina said. “We struggled against Oberlin (in the district championship match) with ball control and it almost hurt us. When we control the ball we have a lot of weapons and that’s the key.”
Salem, who made its second straight appearance in the regional semifinals, featured two potent hitters but Independence countered with a formidable wall the prevented the Quakers from finishing their attack.
“Sometimes the girls think they’re so big on the other side of the net that they’re going to go over the top of them,” Messina said of Independence’s blockers. “We talked to the girls and none of their attacks were over the block, so all we were looking for a touch. Just slow it down for us and they did a great job.”
Independence will play Waynedale, a 3-1 winner over Berkshire in the other regional semifinal at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.