The Olentangy Orange girls volleyball team battled, saving its best set for last, but saw its most successful season in program history come to a close over the weekend as Kings rolled to a straight-set win in Saturday’s Division I state championship game at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.
The Pioneers (26-4), who won a league title, district crown and their first regional championship ever with a dominant win over previously unbeaten Dublin Scioto earlier in the season, never quite found their form on the state’s biggest stage.
The Vikings (28-1), who won the first set 25-16 before taking the second and third by respective scores of 25-10 and 25-21, had a lot to do with that.
After Kings jumped out to an early 5-2 edge thanks to three straight kills from Elise Marchal, who finished with a match-high 28 when all was said and done, Orange answered with a pair of points of its own, including a kill from Delaney McAtee, to climb back within a point, 5-4.
The Pioneers were still within one after an ace by Lauren Jacob, but the Vikings reeled off the next five points to jump out to a 13-7 advantage they parlayed into the convincing opening-set win.
In the second set, Kings led by as much as 11, 18-7, when Sydney Barrett dropped in an ace. Orange got a couple points back thanks to back-to-back kills by Maddie Cugino and Maci Gerboth, but a service error snapped the mini run before the Vikings scored seven of the last eight points to take the set.
Orange took a 4-2 lead early in the third and deciding set, getting points via a Lily Barron kill, a block by Skylar Kelso and a couple hitting errors from Kings, but couldn’t keep the momentum on its side of the net.
The Pioneers led 18-17 after a kill by Maddie Cugino, but the Vikings scored four of the next five to take the lead.
Orange got back to even, 21-21, when Kelso came up with a clutch kill, but Kings ended the set, match and season with a quick 4-0 run featuring three kills and a combo block by Marchal.
Marchal was everywhere in the win, finishing with two assists, two blocks an ace and eight digs to go with her impressive kill total. Barrett added eight kills and 14 digs while Abby Yoder ran the show with a match-best 38 assists.
Gerboth, Maddie Cugino and Barron finished with seven kills apiece for the Pioneers. Izzy Scholvin had 21 assists while Emma Cugino anchored the defense with 18 digs.