WATERFORD - This is how championships are supposed to be won.
Like the epic battles of lore, the Waterford Lady Wildcats and Eastern Lady Eagles fought for all they were worth on the volleyball court of Waterford Elementary School Tuesday night.
At the end, it was the Lady Wildcats who remained standing strong when the war was won.
Waterford survived a valiant effort from the Lady Eagles to claim a four game win over Eastern to clinch the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division championship 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-16.
"It was very exciting four our senior year, knowing we won the TVC championship," said Waterford senior Kim Barker.
In an atmosphere that would have suited those warriors of old, the Lady 'Cats and Lady Eagles dueled from the opening point till the last, thrilling their fans.
"It was intense. It was really loud. Sometimes you couldn't hear each other," said Waterford sophomore Brooke Drayer.
That energetic atmosphere only grew as the night went on, with the two teams matching each other key play for key play.
Whether it was a big time spike or a clutch block, both teams made plays when they needed to and it led to a thrilling match for the players on the court.
"We came out of the locker room with a lot of enthusiasm because that's what we needed to have," said Waterford senior Tana Wallace.
Energy and excitement carried the Lady Wildcats to a strong start to the first game with Waterford leading the bulk of the match.
But it doesn't always matter who leads early in a match.
After Waterford was staked to a 4-3 lead when a spike sailed out of bounds the Lady Wildcats would continue to grow the lead for a few points, making the margin four at 7-3 on a kill from Brooke Drayer and even to six points at 12-6 when an Eastern spike clipped the net.
Eastern, however, was anything but out of the match.
"We're very excited (to win the TVC). I knew when they came in here tonight coach (Howie) Caldwell would have them ready to play," said Waterford volleyball coach Jandy Drayer. "We just did all the right things at the right times."
Instead the Lady Eagles responded and after Waterford leed 17-14 on a block from Barker, one of her game high nine, Eastern scored 10 straight points to lead 24-17 on a kill from the Lady Eagles do-everything girl Jamie Swatzel.
Eastern closed out the first game of the night with a kill from Brenna Holter to claim the opening game 25-19.
"The first game I think our nerves were showing," Barker said.
If the Lady Wildcats may have shown nerves for the first game, but by the end of the night they were ice cold under pressure.
Whether it was a big spike by Barker, who had a game high 23 kills on the night, or a clutch kill from Brooke Drayer, who added 15 kills and eight blocks, Waterford made the big plays whenever they were needed.
Barker and Brooke Drayer combined for 38 of the Lady Wildcats 50 kills in the game and 17 of the 24 blocks made in the entire match.
"I think we blocked really well and we covered our hitters," Brooke Drayer said.
Together the two were a force at the net and with precision passing from Wallace, Olivia Sprague and Chelsey Paxton it was a recipe for success.
Success certainly did not come easy for the two schools that have become the top of the class in TVC-Hocking volleyball.
The second game of the night saw the two teams battle for points early and often with the score remaining close as Waterford led just 10-8 on a kill by Brooke Drayer.
Waterford expanded the lead to 13-9 on a Barker kill and the Lady Wildcats were determined not to fall behind two games to their foe.
The Lady 'Cats scored three of the next four points to lead 16-10, but Eastern was far from done.
The Lady Eagles closed to within just three points at 16-13 when Waterford decided it had had enough. Waterford tallied nine of the next 13 points to lead 24-17 on a kill by Payden Sury with the game finally ending at 25-21 on yet another kill by Brooke Drayer.
Through the first 28 points of the third game the two teams stood exactly where they started - tied. During that stretch neither team was able to open a lead greater than just three points, which came at 13-10 when an Eastern hit sailed out of bounds
From there that lead disappeared as the teams were tied at 14-14.
Waterford regained the lead at 15-14 on a kill by Kaitlin Pottmeyer and while they Lady Wildcats never were tied or trailing again in the third game, they also didn't lead by more than three points until back-to-back miscues by Eastern gave Waterford the 25-20 win.
Out of both energy and enthusiasm, the Lady Eagles saw their hopes of catching Waterford crushed in the fourth game as the Lady 'Cats scored the first five points to lead 5-0 on a Barker kill.
Eastern closed the gap to two points at 6-4 on a kill from Kiki Osborne, but once again Waterford had the answer waiting on the other side of the net.
Leading just 11-9, the Lady 'Cats turned the close game into a rout by scoring 13 of the next 16 points to lead 24-12 on Barker's final block of the game.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, the Lady Wildcats began to feel the anticipation of the coming title clinch and with the crowd chanting for the "Green Machine" Waterford won the match when Swatzel's serve sailed out of bounds for the final point of the game, 25-16.
"We set goals at the beginning of the year. This was one that everybody wanted," coach Drayer said. "I can't be more proud of that group."
The win improved Waterford's mark to 15-2 on the year, including a perfect 12-0 in the TVC.
Eastern fell to 16-2 and had its 10 match winning streak halted. The Lady Eagles fell to 10-2 in the TVC-Hocking with both of their losses coming at the hands of the girls in Waterford uniforms.
"We congratulated each other. We worked hard and we never gave up," Wallace said.
Waterford def. Eastern 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-16
EASTERN (16-2, 10-2 TVC): Jamie Swatzel 8 pts 2 aces 14 assists 13 kills 2 blocks; Allie Hendrix 1 pt 13 assists 4 kills 3 blocks; Beverly Maxson 13 pts 2 aces 7 kills; Baylee Collins 2 pts; Brenna Holter 7 pts 9 kills; Britany Morrison 8 pts 1 ace 2 kills; Kelsey Myres 2 kills; Kiki Osborne 2 kills
WATERFORD (15-2, 12-0 TVC): Kim Barker 10 pts 1 assist 23 kills 9 blocks 5 digs; Brooke Drayer 9 pts 2 aces 15 kills 8 blocks 8 digs; Hannah Offenberger 13 pts 3 aces 23 assists; Chelsey Paxton 12 pts 2 aces 3 kills 25 digs; Tana Wallace 4 pts 4 kills; Alyssa Miller 3 pts 14 assists 8 digs; Payden Sury 2 assists 3 kills; Emily Brown 1 kill 1 block; Kaitlin Pottmeyer 1 assist 1 kill 1 block; Marissa Schott 1 pt 1 assist; Alicia Donahue 1 block 5 digs; Olivia Sprague 13 digs
Next game: Belpre at Waterford, 6 p.m. today
Waterford def. Warren 19-25, 25-11, 25-21
Waterford: Kaitlin Schott 9 pts 1 ace 1 assist 3 kills; Samantha Farley 5 assists; Katie Semon 1 pt 1 ace 4 assists; Nicole Neslein 2 pts 2 aces 2 assists 2 kills; Haley McCutcheon 4 pts 2 aces 2 assists 6 kills 2 blocks; Lindsey Arnold 4 pts 2 aces; Hannah Dailey 16 pts 2 aces 11 assists; Allison Rohrer 3 pts 2 aces 4 kills; Laura HIll 2 pts 1 ace 4 assists 3 kills; Jessie Reynolds 2 pts 2 aces
Waterford def. Parkersburg 25-23, 25-19
Waterford: Kaitlin Schott 1 kill; Samantha Farley 2 pts 1 ace; Nicole Neslein 1 kil; Haley McCutcheon 2 pts 1 ace 4 kills; Lindsey Arnold 1 pt 5 kills; Hannah Dailey 3 pts 15 assists 1 block; Allison Rohrer 7 pts 2 kills; Laura Hill 8 pts 3 aces 2 kills