The Pickerington High School North boys volleyball team did everything but cut off the head of the snake during its Division I East Region championship match against Hilliard Darby on May 16.
Darby, the defending state champions, made North pay for the mistake by taking its tournament life, as Darby rallied for a 25-27, 23-25, 28-26, 25-22, 15-9 victory at Hilliard Davidson that sends them to its fifth consecutive state tournament.
Darby improved to 16-7 and North finished 18-9.
The state tournament will be Saturday and Sunday, May 24 and 25 at Hamilton.
After losing the first two games, Darby fell behind 7-1 in the third game but fought back to tie it 13. There were subsequent ties at 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26.
North never earned a match point. Its final lead was 17-16.
The fourth game was tied at 21 before Darby scored four of the final five points, two on serves by Ian Cowen that North mishandled. Zach Cowen and Jesse Print also had kills during that stretch.
In the fifth game, Darby led 6-4 before Print had two kills and Brian Lee served an ace during a six-point run that put North behind 10-6. Kills by Carter Schmidt and Evan Prather helped expand Darby’s lead to 13-8 and Zach Cowen’s block ended the match.
Davidson tops Gahanna to earn a Hilliard sweep
In the other Division I East Region final May 16, host Davidson overcame a second-game deficit to pull away from Gahanna for a 25-20, 27-25, 25-18 win that sends it to the state tournament for the first times since 2011.
The Wildcats (19-7) used a 14-8 surge to turn a 9-all score into a 23-17 lead in the first game, but Gahanna (17-10) rebounded with leads of 7-1 and 9-2 in the second game before Davidson tied it at 17. There also were ties at 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24 and 25.
Davidson then bolted to a 14-6 lead in the third game. Gahanna pulled within 14-11, but fell behind 20-13 and never threatened again.
Bradley Petrella had 11 kills for the Wildcats and Sean Liberati added six kills and three stuff blocks. Josh Russell added five kills and Jake Russell had four.
Watterson downs Kilbourne, heads to state in Division II
After a slow start in its Division II East Region final, Watterson defeated Worthington Kilbourne 26-28, 25-6, 25-17, 25-15 to cap a remarkable regional run.
The Eagles (18-7) reached the final beating DeSales 25-14, 20-25, 15-25, 25-22, 15-12 in the first round and Mount Vernon 22-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 16-14 in a semifinal. Entering the postseason, DeSales was ranked first in the state poll and Mount Vernon was second. But Watterson was elevated to the top spot in the state poll before beating 10th-ranked Kilbourne (12-12).
The Eagles had too much size for the Wolves, who lost standout Jacob Bloom early in the fourth game with a back injury. Watterson also had superior serving that tested Kilbourne’s serve receive and hurt its ability to run its offense smoothly.
Zack Storc supplied 15 kills, Adam Schnitkey added eight and Matt Hughes had six. Matt Randolph added five kills, three stuff blocks and five aces.