ThisWeek Staff Writer

The Big Walnut High School girls volleyball team captured its second consecutive Division II district championship and ninth in the last 10 years by defeating Canal Winchester 25-16, 15-25, 25-19, 25-15 on Saturday at Grace Brethren Church.

The third-seeded Golden Eagles improved to 22-3 and play Millersburg West Holmes or Uhrichsville Claymont in a regional semifinal Thursday at Granville. Canal Winchester, the No. 2 seed, finished 21-4.

"It feels amazing," Golden Eagles outside hitter Jazmine Reed said. "We've worked hard this season, so it feels good to win another (district title). This was step one. Our next step is to win regionals."

Big Walnut also defeated Canal Winchester in a district final last season, winning that match 19-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-20. The Indians, however, won 25-18, 25-22 on Sept. 19.

"The first time we played them, our kids were not in sync that day," Big Walnut coach Ron Lehman said. "Canal played really well and we didn't. We didn't compete with them. We've really been working hard and we're focused, and we felt like we could compete with them, and we came out and did that very well today."

The turning point of the match occurred with Big Walnut leading 15-11 in the third game with the match tied at one apiece. Behind the serving of Reed, the Golden Eagles won six consecutive points for a 21-11 advantage. Later in the game, Canal Winchester scored five points in a row behind the serving of outside hitter Allison Hutchins to cut the deficit to 22-18, but the Indians would get no closer.

Big Walnut never trailed in the fourth and deciding game. It scored the first six points, two of which came on kills by middle hitter Emma Swysgood, to open a sizable lead. Led by middle hitter Emily Hall, Canal Winchester rallied to cut its deficit to 8-6, only to watch the Golden Eagles score the next four points for a 12-6 lead.

Ahead 14-9, the Golden Eagles scored seven points in a row behind the serving of outside hitter Emilie Wetzel to open a 21-9 lead.

Later in the game, the Indians fought off four match points before Big Walnut closed out the match.

"There were stretches, a couple rotations, where we were just letting (Big Walnut score) point, point, point," Canal Winchester coach Colleen Ross said. "But our other rotations were picking it up and playing well. If we could've minimized those spurts of four, five points from them, it's an even ballgame. But, obviously we didn't. I'm not sure, without looking at (the videotape), why we struggled. I don't know if it was them or us."