In a Division I regional final Thursday at Hilliard Davidson, the Dublin Coffman and Olentangy high school girls volleyball teams each featured six players at least 6-foot tall.
But after the Braves defeated the Shamrocks 25-22, 21-25, 25-17, 15-25, 15-4, coach Michelle Mimna said it was back-row players, such as Kristin Hargrove (5-7), Riley Galant (5-6) and Morgan Dieck (5-4) who made the difference.
Olentangy improved to 24-2 and advanced to a regional final Saturday at Davidson where it will face Cincinnati Ursuline Academy. Coffman finished 25-2.
"A lot of people look at us and think we're just a bunch of tall girls, but after the way we played tonight don't tell me we can't play defense," Mimna said. "They tried to tip the ball over our block, but our little, defensive kids were there to pick that up, and that's a big reason why we won."
The Braves earned their 20th consecutive victory and snapped the Shamrocks' 15-match winning streak.
Coffman had won all but one match in three games and hadn't competed in a five-game match before Tuesday.
"This was the first time we've played five games all year, and I think nerves may have gotten to us a little bit," Coffman junior middle-hitter Alex Blair said. "We knew this was going to be an even match and we were ready to go five, but this wasn't our best blocking game and they were a little bit better."
Leading Olentangy were Amanda Halls (17 kills), Lauren Grover (11 kills, three blocks), Kristen Farris (nine kills, three blocks) and Madelyn Ervin (six kills). Hargrove had a team-best 31 digs.
"We served really aggressive, and I think we blocked them a little more than they expected," Farris said.