Kyle Kuebler of the Hilliard Darby High School boys volleyball team understands the benefits of being patient and observant.

Kyle Kuebler of the Hilliard Darby High School boys volleyball team understands the benefits of being patient and observant.

Kuebler and his fellow seniors watched last season as the Panthers, behind a lineup comprised of 2010 graduates, reached a semifinal of the Division I state tournament.

Now, it's their turn.

"Even though most of us weren't starting last year, we were preparing for this," Kuebler said. "Even this year, we've got a bunch of sophomores coming up and they're going to be the leaders next season."

The Panthers, the top seed in the East Region, have been among the teams to beat in central Ohio with six consecutive appearances in the state tournament. Their quest for a state title continues against Cleveland St. Ignatius in a quarterfinal at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 28, at Pickerington North.

The winner advances to a state semifinal at 12:45 p.m. Sunday, May 29, against Cincinnati Moeller or Beavercreek. The state final is 6 p.m. Sunday, May 29.

"It's a really been a solid group," said coach Bryan Webb, whose team is 23-3 overall. "They had a really good class of seniors ahead of them last year and now they're doing their thing."

Moeller defeated the Panthers 25-18, 25-23, 28-26 on April 30 in the Centerville Elite tournament.

"We had substantial leads on them in two of those games," Webb said. "I know our guys didn't play their best and we're looking forward to possibly facing them again. Fortunately for us, the tournament is in (Pickerington) this year and we know it's going to be a great environment."

Darby needed four games to defeat fourth-seeded Gahanna 25-17, 25-18, 21-25, 25-18 in an East Region title match on May 21. It eliminated Worthington Kilbourne 25-17, 25-9, 25-14 in a second-round match on May 18.

The Panthers won't be the only Hilliard team in the state tournament this year.

Second-seeded Davidson reached the final eight for the first time since 2006 with a 25-17, 25-22, 25-16 victory over third-seeded Mount Vernon in an East Region final May 21.

The Wildcats advanced to the regional final with victories over Pickerington North (25-16, 25-27, 25-21, 25-22 on May 18) and Pickerington Central (25-12, 25-16, 25-10 on May 14).

Davidson coach Jay Cauley, whose team is 21-6 overall, remains confident his group won't be overwhelmed at state.

"There isn't going to be any awe about who our opponent is going to be and that's really because of the schedule we played this year," he said. "Our guys know they can compete against these programs."

The Wildcats play Lakewood St. Edward in a state quarterfinal at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, May 28, at Pickerington North. The winner plays Centerville or Cincinnati St. Xavier in a semifinal at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 29.

Davidson played Centerville twice during the regular season, winning 25-17, 25-19, 25-19 on April 21 and losing 25-11, 25-23, 25-15 nine days later.

Bradley fell short of reaching the Division II state tournament with a 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 25-22 loss to St. Charles in an East Region final May 21.

"They did a really good job of adjusting to our middle," said coach Zach Franklin, whose team finished 11-8 overall. "They had the Division II Player of the Year (Andy Sellan) and found ways to keep him in the middle and it worked."

The Jaguars finished 6-16 overall last year in their first season, which ended in the first round of the tournament.

Bradley, led by seniors Evan Bell, Stephen Bell, Ian Davis and Cameron Kelly, finished 5-5 in the OCC-Capital Division behind Mount Vernon (10-0), Gahanna (7-3) and Pickerington North (6-4) and ahead of Delaware (2-8) and Pickerington Central (0-10).

Bell and Davis were both first-team all-league and first-team all-region selections. Kelly was honorable mention all-league and honorable mention all-region.

Expected back next season are juniors Evan Donnelly (middle blocker, second-team all-league and second-team all-region), John Hess (right-side hitter) and Ben Taylor (outside hitter) and sophomore Eric Bell (setter).

"I think we've got a very bright future," Franklin said. "More of our guys are playing club. Beating Darby and Mount Vernon and reaching the regional finals should be a big momentum builder for us."