By Ben Stroup
It took five sets and seven championship appearances, but the payoff was worth it as the Liberty girls volleyball team wrapped up its first district title in program history with a thrilling come-from-behind win over Westerville Central in Saturday’s Division I final at Bloom-Carroll.
After dropping the first two sets by respective scores of 24-26 and 30-32, the Patriots turned the tide big time. They won the third set 25-22 before evening things up with a 25-20 win in the fourth and, with all the momentum on their side of the net heading into the fifth, won the pressure-packed deciding set 15-10 to seal the deal.
“It felt awesome to win (the district title) and do it with this group,” Liberty coach Jen Chapman said. “They are a special group and I am most happy for them.”
Shelby Stewart, who had a team-leading 11 blocks and five aces, and Lauren Hofer led the attack with 13 kills apiece while Heather Littlejohn finished with 12. Madison Brenner and Lindsey Merrels were also solid, closing with 10 kills each.
Lauren Nichols anchored the defense with 41 digs while Brenner and Maddie Fogg finished with 27 apiece.
With the win, Liberty (23-2) will take on a familiar foe in Dublin Coffman in Wednesday’s D-I regional semifinal at Hilliard Davidson. The shamrocks handed the Patriots their only two losses of the season. Action is set to start at 6 p.m.
Berne Union 3, Delaware Christian 2
The Eagles, up two sets to one after winning the second and third, saw the Rockets storm from behind to win the last two and capture a Division IV district championship Saturday at Buckeye Valley High School.
The 23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 23-25, 11-15 setback was disappointing, but can’t come close to overshadowing the careers seniors Erin McCullough and Liz Sullivan saw come to a close.
“Erin and Liz have three district runner-up titles and three league titles in their four years,” DCS coach Jackie Boggs said. “It’s a disappointing finish, but more important than all of the wins they have in their four years, 80 I believe, is the character they showed in victory and defeat.”
McCullough, the District Player of the Year, finished with 37 digs, 33 kills and three aces while Sullivan added 17 digs and 11 kills.
Other Eagle (21-4) standouts included Anna Fuller, who finished with 17 digs and seven kills; Mary Kerins, who had 32 digs; Brianna Blackburn, who finished with 43 assists and 13 digs; and Abbey Evans, who had five kills.
DeSales 3, Olentangy 0
The Braves saw a stellar season come to a disappointing end, falling to DeSales 12-25, 12-25, 17-25 in a Division I district final Saturday at Whitehall-Yearling High School.
The Braves, who shared the OCC-Capital Division championship with Orange to punctuate a productive regular season, finished 18-8 overall.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.