By JEREMY STEWART
ThisWeek Staff Writer

The seventh-seeded Thomas Worthington High School girls volleyball team defeated Gahanna 23-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 to win a Division I district championship Saturday at Licking Heights.

The Cardinals did it with their hitting and ability to remain calm after dropping the first game for the second match in a row.

"We have a really good offense and they had a really good defense," said coach Ed Marsman, whose team improved to 20-6 overall and advanced to a regional semifinal for the first time since 2005. "We felt that they didn't have enough offense and if we could just play more defense we'd be fine."

The Cardinals also lost the first game in its win over third-seeded Olentangy Liberty 23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-19 in a district semifinal Oct. 27.

"The kids don't panic," Marsman said. "It's a mindset that they have and they can finish. When we get into the 20s, it's our game."

The Lions, who finished 13-13 overall, won the first game after being down 23-20, but they didn't have enough to bounce back in the other games. The Cardinals led 22-15 in the final game before staving off a Gahanna rally.

"The difference was hitting probably," said Gahanna coach Scot Holmes, whose unseeded team knocked off fourth-seeded Westerville Central 25-23, 25-19, 25-27, 20-25, 15-12 in a district semifinal Oct. 28 to advance. "Once you get into the district final, you know all these teams are going to be pretty good hitting the ball."

Thomas plays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in a regional final against Dublin Coffman or Watterson.