State Volleyball Tournament invades Wright State’s Nutter Center


Albany Alexander and Lima Central Catholic both return to the Nutter Center this season in D-III. (Photo by John Ritter)

Volleyball fans from around the state will have all eyes on Wright
State University this weekend as the remaining four teams from each
division take center stage at the Ervin J. Nutter Center to play for
the ultimate high school volleyball prize – a state title! Play begins Thursday.

Volleyball fans from around the state will have all eyes on Wright State University this weekend as the remaining four teams from each division take center stage at the Ervin J. Nutter Center to play for the ultimate high school volleyball prize – a state title!

Division I
Ohio’s biggest division draws the afternoon and evening slots for Thursday this year. Brecksville-Broadview Heights plays Olmsted Falls in the 4 p.m. game with a pair of Cincinnati schools and Girls Greater Cincinnati League rivals – Ursuline Academy and Mount Notre Dame – facing off at 6 p.m.

Still unbeaten, Olmsted looks to complete the unblemished run with a state title. They advanced to the final four by beating Rocky River Magnificat. Olmsted’s state semifinal opponent, Broadview, enters fresh off a four-set win over Lodi Cloverleaf in the regional championship and will be looking to end the perfect finish for Olmsted.

In the other semifinal, Ursuline Academy also enters without a loss and is trying to become the fourth different GGCL school in four years to win the state title. They made quick work of Lewis Center Olentangy in straight sets last Saturday to capture the regional crown, and now, like Olmsted, enter Thursday looking for the final two pieces to their perfect puzzle. Standing in their way will be Mount Notre Dame. The Lady Cougars return to the final four to face Ursuline in a rematch of last year’s regional championship where Notre Dame won a fifth and final set 15-13 to advance to the state tournament. MND was the runner-up last year.

The two winners will return Saturday for the state championship at 1 p.m.

Division II
The early time slots for Thursday will have the Division-II action. Starting at noon, Mansfield Madison Comprehensive will play Parma Padua Franciscan. Following game one, Kettering Archbishop Alter and Columbus Bishop Hartley will take center stage with a start time of 2 p.m.

In the first game, Madison Comprehensive arrives following a regional championship win over Celina in four games, while Padua Franciscan beat Mentor Lake Catholic in four sets to advance. Madison Comprehensive won a state title in 1997, and then, they made another final four appearance in 1998; however, this 2008 trip marks the first time in a decade that they have played in the state semifinals. On the other hand, Padua Franciscan is making its first trip to the dance.

The second game is an outstanding match-up. Alter beat undefeated Tippecanoe (a member of last year’s final four) to advance, while Columbus Bishop Hartley – the only return member to the D-II final four from last year – knocked off Big Walnut in straight sets to capture another regional title. The Lady Hawks return to Wright State despite losing five seniors from last year’s roster.

The Division-II state title game is the first game Saturday morning. Start time is slated for 11 a.m.

Division III
The D-III bracket has some familiar names. Last year semifinalist, Gilmour Academy, returns to the final four and will face defending state champion, Lima Central Catholic. The Lady Thunderbirds graduated only two from last year’s championship roster. JoJo Krieg, Rachel Illig, Alexis Diglio, and a host of others return with repeat on their mind.

The winner of this Friday night semifinal will return Saturday afternoon to play the winner of Alexander and Versailles. Alexander returns to the final four hoping the third time is a charm. In 2006, Alexander lost to eventual state champion Anna in the semifinal. Last season, Alexander won a thrilling, five-set semifinal over Gilmour Academy before losing in the final to LCC. Alexander runs a very balanced attack with two solid middle-hitters (Betsy Irwin and Megan McCoy) as well as some athletic threats on the outside led by Whitney Smith. Lauren Raines – the setter for the Spartans the last two seasons – now anchors the defense as the libero, while Sarah Radekin is the 5-1 setter and quarterbacks the balanced Spartan attack.

Versailles returns to the final four for the third time in school history and for the first time since 2003 – a year they finished runner-up. They defeated Middletown Bishop Fenwick in four games to capture the regional crown last Saturday at Wilmington High School.

The two Division-III games get underway Friday at 4 p.m. The LCC/Gilmour match is first with Alexander/Versailles to follow at 6 p.m. The championship will be played Saturday at 5 p.m.

Division IV
Here’s a shock! Newark Catholic is in the final four. The Green Wave makes their 17th overall appearance and is looking for their ninth state title. In the noon match on Friday, Newark Catholic will play defending state champion Maria Stein Marion Local. Marion Local returns to the final four for the second straight season thanks to a pair of straight set regional wins against Tiffin Calvert and Leipsic.

Following that match with a start time of 2 p.m., Jackson Center and New Washington Buckeye Central take center stage. Jackson Center enjoyed their school’s first trip so much a year ago they decided to make it back-to-back in 2008. The Lady Tigers graduated only three seniors from last year’s team. Their opponent, Buckeye Central, is no stranger to the final four; however, after making it in four out of six years from 1996-2001, they return in 2008 for the first time in seven years.

The winners play for the D-IV State Championship Saturday at 3 p.m.

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