Gilmour Academy, Miami East head for state championship showdown
Gilmour Academy (26-2) def. Bishop Ready (22-6) 25-22, 25-28, 25-22
Miami East (28-1) def. Frankfort Adena (24-4) 25-21, 25-21, 17-25, 25-22
Gilmour Academy advanced to the state final for the third time in four years with a 25-22, 25-18, 25-22 win over Bishop Ready in a Medieval Division III semifinal between Lancers and Silver Knights at the Nutter Center last night. Although two games were in doubt to the end, there were only five ties and two lead changes in the entire match, with three of the ties coming in game two.
Gilmour received a good scouting report on Ready and worked hard to prepare for them. So it was of some consternation to Coach Kelly Coughlin when Ready jumped out to an 7-1 lead. “These girls have done a nice job of putting gray hairs on my head” he joked afterward adding “on what hair I have left”.
Following a timeout, Ready outside hitter Carly Culbertson scored her third kill of the match. Gilmour, however, closed to 8-7 and, after some point trading, they took the lead 15-13 on a four-point run. Libero Carolyn Curran served an ace, outside hitter Maddie Kosar slammed a knock down kill to midcourt and outside Megan Diemer added a kill down the left.
Ready stayed close behind hitting from 5’11” junior Karley Kusan, but 6’3” sophomore middle Jessica Janota kept Gilmour in charge with four of her match leading 14 kills, including a game ending termination down the left.
Kusan scored first in game two for Ready. Gilmour tied at two on a long hit by the Knights. Janota followed with a soft liner to a hole in back middle and Kosar scored a bloop serve ace. Ready setter Katie Weilbacher tied at five with an ace, but Gilmour ran off seven straight as sophomore opposite Patricia Colella served while 6’0” senior Maria Cup contributed two kills and two blocks. Ready closed from 16-7 to 20-17, but Gilmour pulled away with Cup scoring two of the final three.
Janota blocked Gilmour to a 3-0 start in game three, but Ready scored five straight to tie at eight. Cup demolished a quick set from Megan Polak to end the run and Gilmour moved ahead 10-8, 13-9 and 18-13. Ready closed within two three times, but Kosar kept them at bay each time with a kill.
After Weilbacher cut the score to 22-20 with a line drive dump, Kosar scored her third kill with a tip when Ready libero Carleigh Green dug her spike. On the next volley Green passed a bomb from Janota, but Polak blocked killed on Ready’s next missive, taking the Lancers to game point at 24-20. The game ended when the Knights’, having switched their outside hitting positions for game three, got out of rotation for the second time.
The Lancers fell to Bishop Fenwick in last year’s state final 25-19, 20-25, 27-25, 25-16. Maddie Kosar, who recorded a team-leading six blocks last night, explained what she took away from that loss. “I learned that it stinks to lose and watch the other team get their championship medals”. Whether that will translate into the desired result will be determined on Saturday.
In the second match top ranked Miami East prevailed over Frankfort Adena 25-21, 25-21, 17-25, 25-22. The Vikings, who like Ready were making their first final four appearance, outdueled Adena in a battle of frenzied volleys that were extended by 207 combined digs (the previous match saw only 90 total digs).
Adena has been to state seven times. They won state championships in 1975 and 1976, the first two years the state tourney was held. Coach Laura Smith took over the program in 1985 and has guided the Warriors to a record of 592-109. Coach Smith and her assistant Coach Donna Atchison were members of the state championship teams. Also on those teams was 6’5” Cindy Noble, who in 1984 was a member of the United States basketball team that won a gold medal.
The Warriors don’t have that kind of height anymore according to Smith, who noted that senior middle hitter Olivia Arledge is the first 6-footer she’s ever had. “And she’s not even home grown” Smith added. Arledge, who paced the Warriors last night with 20 kills and 3 blocks, moved in her sophomore year from a nearby district.
Height would be a factor in the semifinal with the Vikings starting four six-footers. Two of them, 6’0” junior setter/right side Abby Cash and 6’1” middle Leah Dunivan specialize in shoots. Cash puts them up and Dunivan slashes them into unreachable places.
Adena was aware Miami East used shoots, according to Coach Smith. “We had a video and saw the setter shooting the ball. We knew what Dunivan was going to do but couldn’t stop it”. Smith said Adena had not seen the shoot in any matches this year.
Miami East stands in stark contrast to Adena. The Warriors currently have a 142 match home streak and have won 98 straight in the Scioto Valley Conference. They’ve taken the conference title 21 of the last 22 years. Miami East had never won their district until this season, and they won a total of nine matches from 2000 through 2008.
East senior outside Kelsey Vanchure was a freshman when Coach John Cash arrived as a junior varsity coach. Cash took over as varsity coach the next year and when he set a goal of reaching the state finals in three years, Vanchure thought he was a bit crazy. Cash also instituted rigorous practices, with every practice graded.
Vanchure was the only member of her class out of some 30 volleyball players who survived. Last night she contributed nine kills with a stellar .429 efficiency.
The Vikings drew first blood with a double block by. East advanced to 8-4 on a block and two kills by 6’0” junior middle Ashley Current. Adena closed to 9-8 and tied at eleven led by Arledge with blocking help from setter Cadie Cory.
Miami East moved ahead again 17-13 but, following a long serve, Warrior outside Logan Bowdle dished up an ace and Bethany Delong blocked and spiked points and Adena grabbed the lead 18-17. That proved short lived as Dunivan retied and 5’10” sophomore outside Angie Mack served an ace. Mack also teamed up with libero Allison Morrett, whose 32 digs led both teams, and defender Allie Millhouse to keep Warrior hits off the floor as East edged in front 20-18. They advanced to 22-20 when Dunivan demolished a shoot from Cash.
Vanchure upped the score to 24-20 with kills and the Vikings won on a long Warrriors’ hit after Mack made a great save on a partial block.
Arledge blasted a Cory quick set to open set two. East tied at one and, following a dump by Cory, again at two on a hole shot by 6’0” sophomore setter/right side Sam Cash. Dunivan hammered another shoot from Abby Cash and East built a 9-4 lead led on spiking and serving of Sam Cash. Adena put together a four-point run with Arledge blocking Vanchure and spiking a kill, and junior outside Jenny Grigsby serving an ace, to tie at 13.
Vanchure, however, slammed a point cross-court, igniting a four-point run and Current upped their lead to 21-17 with a kill and block.
Adena defensive specialist Michelle Ackley served two of her five aces to narrow the lead to 21-20 but Abby Cash slammed a quick set from Sam, and after a net serve, Vanchure pounded one kill and holed another. When a serve by Abby Cash was received over but out the game was over.
Miami East jumped out 3-0 in the third set, helped by errors, and after back-and-forth scoring they led 9-5. Then Adena got rolling. Warrior setter/outside Natalie Cooper slammed a cross court kill and Ackley served seven points including two aces to put Adena atop 13-9. The teams traded points to 17-13 and Miami East closed to 18-16.
But Warrior sophomore middle Bridgette Scaggs smashed a Cory quickset and that brought Ackley to the line again where she served four more points, helped by defensive specialist Jenna Hutton, libero Cara Coy and Cory (who led Adena in digs with 24 while making 34 assists).
Grigsby took it to game point at 24-17 with a tip and although Arledge would spike the game winner, Grigsby made it happen by digging a shoot spike and getting the Vikings out of system with a blast.
Miami East again charged out 3-0 in game four. Adena promptly tied at three, and there would be ties on the next four points, even as the Warriors took the lead at 5-4.
East, however, seemingly took control, roaring to a 17-10 lead on stellar backcourt play from Mack, Morrett and Millhouse.
Adena was not finished and Ackley, Grigsby and Coy saved the next very intense volley for Arledge to end. Arledge added two more kills and senior outside Lexie Roll tipped an overpass from a serve by Cory, and Adena was within two at 17-15. Despite a timeout by Miami East the Vikings’ next hit was long.
Fortunately for the Vikings, Adena hit long because Scaggs followed with a kill to keep the Warriors atop 21-20. Adena would have gone up 22-20, but a diving defender touched a Vikings hit that was headed out and the score was tied. A long Warrior hit put East atop 22-21. Grigsby landed a slam into an empty corner to retie at 22, but Dunivan lined a shoot into Adena’s back middle. Sam Cash won a play at the net hit to bring on match point, and when an Adena hit sailed long the match was over.