Highland nips Holy Name in five-set state semifinal
FAIRBORN — In a match with more twists and turns than the Corkscrew roller coaster at Cedar Point, the Highland volleyball team found a way to keep from falling over from the ride.
And with it, the Scots also found their way into the Division II state volleyball championship game.
Highland regained its balance at just the right time, beating Parma Heights Holy Name, 25-23, 28-26, 20-25, 13-25, 15-9, in the Division II state semifinals Thursday at Wright State University.
“We really wanted this — really bad. We had to fight to the end,” said Highland senior Raina Terry. “This is a dream come true. I’m not sure I realize it yet.”
Highland will now face Middletown Bishop Fenwick in the state championship match Saturday at 1 p.m. at Wright State. The Falcons (27-1) beat Gilmour Academy, 25-16, 17-25, 22-25, 25-13, 15-12.
On Thursday, the Scots (25-4), especially Terry, came out firing early. Terry had five of her 21 kills in the first set, as the Scots were able to secure the hard-fought 25-23 victory.
The second set was another barn-burner with the Scots rallying from several large deficits. Holy Name (25-3) led 10-4 at one point and still led 23-17 late in the set. But, Terry took over, scoring on five kills and two huge blocks to bring the Scots back.
“It’s hard to compete against someone as tall as 12 (Terry, 6-foot-3) who can hit the ball over your blocks,” said Holy Name coach Megan Green. “There’s only so much you can do.”
The Green Wave figured out how to slow Terry and the Scots down the next two sets, though.
A change in defense, funneling the ball toward their libero, helped the Green Wave get back into the swing of things.
The third set saw nine ties and two lead changes before Holy Name was finally able to secure the 25-20 win behind seven kills from Samantha Snow. That momentum continued in the fourth before Highland finally righted the ship in the fifth.
“We knew we had to get back to square one and get back to work,” said Highland coach Rob Terrill. “They (Holy Name) were taking us out of what we wanted to do. They were taking away the seams and frustrating us. We were trying to do extra things, like threading the needle, instead of just playing strong and aggressive.”
Two 4-0 runs helped the Scots in the final set. Makenna Belcher (11 kills) swatted a couple of big hits, and Gena West (6 kills, 4 blocks) had a huge block and a dunk. Then, a pair aces by Abby Eusey put the Scots in the driver’s seat.
“To finish the last set was amazing,” West said. “Now, we want to win a state championship. The community and school are behind us. They want it as bad as we do.”
Terry finished with 11 digs and three blocks to go along with her 21 kills. Belcher had 20 digs and 11 kills, West had six kills and four blocks, and Kendall Stover had 15 digs, nine kills and two blocks. Setter Ashlynn Belcher handed out 47 assists and also had 17 digs, while Darcie Walters dug up 23 attacks.
“I think I felt more pressure (today) than this summer (on her club team which won nationals),” Terry said. “I’m with these girls every single day. I love them more than anything. To win this for them is all I want to do.”
Holy Name was led by Snow, who had 24 kills and 13 digs. Zellie Kessler added 17 kills, while Abrianna Marchetta had 50 assist and libero Lauren Whetstone had 29 digs.