Olentangy Orange’s historic season came to an end in the Division I volleyball regional semifinals Thursday night at Worthington Kilbourne High School in Columbus.
Gahanna Lincoln came from behind and took the match in five sets with a 25-23, 18-25, 21-25, 25-12, 15-7 victory over the Pioneers, who had won both an outright league title and a district title for the first time this season.
“I think Gahanna is probably one of the better ballclubs we’ve run into all year,” Pioneers coach Katie Duy said. “They’re a big, physical team, which we knew they were going to be and I think it took our kids out of their comfort zone a little bit.”
Alexis Young led the way with 14 kills and a couple of key aces in the late stages. Dasha Bruyako had 14 digs and 11 kills and Sophia Easton led the Lions (22-4) with 42 assists in the win.
“(Gahanna) played well – you have to give them a lot of credit,” Duy said. “I thought both their outsides (Young and Aubra Wrona) played well … I thought Easton played well and they just looked more comfortable.”
Gahanna, which lost in the regional semifinal round last season, gained momentum in the fourth set thanks to three consecutive Orange errors. But, it was Young who led the way with four kills and an ace to help Gahanna take the set.
“This is the first time, obviously, as a program that we’ve been here, so I knew (Gahanna) would be more comfortable,” Duy said. “They looked a little more comfortable, where we were just reaching at times. But, I can’t fault our girls too much – they fought against a tough team.”
Young had a pair of aces in the early stages as Gahanna took control in the fifth set before Bruyako’s kill closed out the Lions’ victory.
“Young is just a physical kid that hits the snot out of the ball,” Duy said. “She’s always been a presence for them. She stepped up for them at the end, but had a great match (overall). Her IQ’s pretty high – she found holes toward the end and did a great job of seeing the court.”
Taylor Metzler had three kills to help Orange (21-6) to a 6-4 start early in the first set.
“I think Taylor brings physicality,” Duy said. “A lot of times we’re a (finesse) team that kind of manages our way through games. But, Taylor brings a lot of power and that throws a lot of teams off. We’re very lucky that she’s a sophomore.”
Gahanna scored the next eight points on the strength of a pair of aces by Young and a couple of Abby VanHorssen kills.
Samantha Rubal had three kills as Orange took nine of the next 11 points to grab a 16-15 lead. The teams went back and forth before a Young block closed out the first set victory.
Orange scored seven straight points on its way to a 25-18 second set victory. Sidney Gossard had a kill, a block and an ace early in the set. Rubal led the way with six kills and a couple of blocks.
The Pioneers started 8-3 in the third set thanks to three straight points off of kills by Gossard and Sidney Reeder and a Megan McCollum ace.
Young had a pair of kills as Gahanna scored six of the next seven to tie it 9-9.
A Carrigan O’Reilly touch shot got Orange to set point and Metzler finished off a third set victory with a kill. Metzler had four kills and O’Reilly had two more to lead the way down the stretch for the Pioneers.
Rubal led with 13 kills and three blocks, O’Reilly had 32 assists, 15 digs and three blocks and McCollum led with 21 digs for the Pioneers.
Also for Orange, Gossard tied the team lead with three blocks, Metzger added nine kills and Sophie Dahn had 13 digs.
“We had five underclassmen on the floor at the end of the game,” Duy said. “I don’t know of any team in Central Ohio that has that – I’m very fortunate.”
Madison Martinez led the Lions with 20 digs.
Gahanna plays Dublin Coffman Saturday in the regional final at 2 p.m at Worthington Kilbourne.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.