Newark Catholic High School girls volleyball player Laura Gilmore's omnipresent smile began to spread as the fourth game of Wednesday's Division IV regional semifinal against Tuscarawas Central Catholic unfolded.

"For me, definitely, once we hit 20 (points) I expect to win," senior setter Laney Warthen said following the 25-16, 19-25, 25-23, 25-16 victory at Lancaster. "I believe if you get to 20 you should win."

Helping those smiles was the fact that Central Catholic's Millie Patchan was stuck in the back row for two crucial stretches of the fourth game. The Green Wave opened with a 7-2 run and later pushed a 13-10 lead to 20-12. Patchan, a sophomore middle hitter, finished with 21 kills nonetheless.

"They were trippy; very fast and swinging every which way," said Green Wave senior Angela McNulty, who frequently opposed Patchan in the middle. "It was fun."

The Green Wave, ranked third in the final state poll led by Jackson Center, improved to 25-1 while advancing to meet South Webster in the regional final at 2 p.m. Saturday, also at Lancaster. South Webster, which
eliminated Beaver Eastern in the other semifinal in five games, is 21-4. Central Catholic, ranked 10th in the final poll, finished 23-4.

"In the game we lost we weren't attacking. It seemed like we were playing defense all the time," coach Jeri Helfer said. "Their middles were terrific. We had to bring our hitters back into it."

McNulty finished with 14 kills and six blocks while Alyssa Frick added nine kills and Katie Harrington six. Erica Rath totaled eight kills with four blocks. Warthen had 39 assists and six service aces while Gilmore contributed four aces.