Monroeville had other plans.
The Division IV No. 9-ranked Eagles overcame a late five-point deficit, rallied in Game 3 and then controlled Game 4, taking a 25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 25-16 victory over No. 16 Dalton in a regional semifinal at Uniontown Lake High School on Thursday.
Monroeville improved to 23-3 overall and will face No. 12 Wellsville (25-1) in the regional championship at 2 p.m. Saturday back at Uniontown Lake.
"We built some momentum in Game 2 by fighting back and we used that in Game 3," Monroeville coach Kendra Snook said. "We held our composure toward the end of Game 3. Dalton dug a ton of balls, but our balanced attack got them."
The Bulldogs (20-6) took an 18-13 lead as Snook took her second timeout of the game. Monroeville responded and slowly chipped away at the lead. The teams were tied at 22 and 23 before the Eagles took the final two points of the game.
Monroeville jumped out to a 6-2 lead in Game 4 and were never really challenged. The lead blossomed to 11-5 and later, a string of three straight points extended the lead to 16-9. After Dalton won a point, three more points pushed the lead to 19-10.
The Bulldogs got within 19-14, but two more runs of three consecutive points by Monroeville gave the Eagles the big win.
"Most of their points were our unforced errors," Snook said. "We had to refocus and work on cutting down on our unforced errors. They just kept digging balls, so we had to cut down the mistakes on our side."
Monroeville nearly led Game 1 from start to finish. The Eagles jumped out to a 4-1 lead and never looked back. The margin was 9-3 when the Bulldogs called a timeout. Dalton got back within 10-8 and scored the next three points for a 11-10 lead.
The Eagles bounced back and scored the next four points for a 14-11 lead. Monroeville took the last two points of the game on back-to-back kills.
"Taking Game 1 was important," Snook said. "We wanted to take the lead and never let up. The way we started the match was a good sign. Even under pressure, we played well."
Dalton took Game 2, but not without a fight from the Eagles. The Bulldogs opened a 19-13 lead, but Monroeville drew as close as a point, but could not quite do enough to come all the way back.
Game 3 was tied at 13-all before five straight points for the Bulldogs gave them a 18-13 lead.
"It was a long bus ride, but we got here early and the girls had plenty of time to do all their stretching," Snook said. "We have been calm all week. They have not been nervous. They are composed and we have bigger goals."
Kelsie Palmer led the Eagles with 16 kills and three blocks while Maura Brown had 14 kills and three blocks. Kylee Brooks added nine kills and two blocks.
Camryn Hedrick tallied 45 assists while Stacia Stieber had 31 digs. Hedrick added 14 digs, Adrian Barman had 12 digs, and Josee Brown and Maddie Elmlinger each had nine digs.
"A lot of Saturday will depend on what we do," Snook said. "We have to be able to control the ball. (Hedrick) has been mixing the offense well. Defensively, we are digging as well as any other team. We just have to cut back on the unforced errors."
Monroeville is looking to return to the Div. IV state semifinals after reaching the Nutter Center in Dayton back in 2015.