The Olentangy Liberty girls volleyball team walked into the gym at Franklin Heights Saturday afternoon to cheering, singing and dancing from the above weight space.
It was not its fan base welcoming its arrival, but its Division I district final opponent St. Francis DeSales.
The Stallions were trying to ready themselves.
“I thought we responded well,” Liberty coach Jen Chapman said. “We had good energy, but we weren’t over the top and we weren’t (too) low. We were just (even-keeled) and we pushed when we needed to.”
The top-seeded Patriots ended their opponent’s hoopla with a 16-4 run in the first set and rolled from there to a 25-11, 25-17, 25-18 win to capture the school’s second district championship.
“It set the tone,” said Chapman about her team’s first-set performance. “I knew they were coached very well and their players have a lot of experience. You know they’re not going to give up.”
Liberty has played in nine district title games in the school’s 16-year history, including each of the last four years and eight of the last nine.
“It is an emotional rollercoaster because you put in so much time and effort – not just you as a coach, but the girls put so much time in throughout the season,” Chapman said. “The girls have been really good this year just stepping up to the challenge and playing for each other and playing as a team.”
DeSales bested the Patriots in 2013 and 2016, so nerves were working overtime for Chapman.
“They were probably less nervous than I was,” she said. “But, I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t think they could do it – I just wanted it that badly for them just because they’re such a great group.”
Senior Grace Clark, who was a freshman on Liberty’s previous district championship-winning team, said the team only needed to look at this year’s Oct. 6 meeting with the Stallions for motivation.
“We’ve always had a history of good games with them,” she said. “Last year, we were down two sets and came back and won in five. In the regular season we dropped six sets and one of those sets was against DeSales. So, I think that’s what we really had in our heads. We don’t want to drop any sets to DeSales – we just wanna go in and take care of business.”
Junior Claranne Fechter provided the Patriots (25-0) with a great deal on offense with a team-high 12 kills and defense with 19 digs.
“I really think that everyone on our team pushed hard and had a lot of energy and that really helped us to achieve our goal – which was to beat them in three,” she said.
The Patriots snapped DeSales’ streak of seven straight district titles.
Raegan Rosi and Taylor Karlo had seven kills apiece and Clark and Abby Erickson added five.
Erickson led with six blocks, Logan Flaugh helped out with 28 assists, 19 digs and three aces and Maile Steckelberg led with 25 digs.
Emma Brown had nine kills and two blocks, Bella D’Amico had 17 assists and added eight kills, Lainey McGonigle led with 20 digs and Bridget Javitch added 16 digs to lead the 11th-seeded Stallions (16-9).
Liberty will face Dublin Coffman in Thursday night’s regional semifinal at Worthington Kilbourne. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“This is such an incredible way to go out – an undefeated season and a shot at states,” Clark said.
Olentangy Orange 3, Watkins Memorial 1
The fourth-seeded Pioneers picked up their third straight district title Saturday, handling the 13th-seeded Warriors in four sets Saturday at Whitehall-Yearling.
Orange, which will play Bishop Watterson for a shot at its first-ever trip to the regional finals Thursday night at Worthington Kilbourne, set the tone with a 25-19 first-set win against Watkins.
The Warriors responded with a 25-20 win in the second before the Pioneers sealed the deal with back-to-back 25-15 wins in the third and fourth.
Fairfield Christian 3, Delaware Christian 1
Fourth-seeded DCS stayed alive with a solid third-set victory, but top-seeded Fairfield Christian found its footing down the stretch to win Saturday’s Division IV district championship at Worthington Christian Middle School.
After falling by a slim 23-25 margin in the first set, the Eagles lost the second 16-25. They responded well, though, winning the third 26-24 before Fairfield Christian clipped them 25-16 in the fourth to close out the win.
Lyssi Snouffer led DCS with 22 digs and 18 kills. Other standouts included Grace Williams, who had 31 assists to go with 13 digs and an ace; Sloane Dellipoala, who had a team-best three blocks to complement her three kills and four digs; and the duo of Abbi Maurer and Abbey Blackburn, who finished with two aces apiece.
Also: Watterson def. Olentangy 18-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13; Bishop Hartley def. Big Walnut 23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 15-8
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