Playing a familiar opponent last Saturday in a Division I regional final didn't seem to bother the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys volleyball team.

Playing a familiar opponent last Saturday in a Division I regional final didn't seem to bother the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys volleyball team.

The Wolves had shared the OCC-Ohio Division championship with Hilliard Darby at 9-1 and the teams were two of the best in the East Region.

The Panthers simply made fewer mistakes to reach the state tournament with a 25-19, 16-25, 25-21, 25-21 victory over Kilbourne. Darby will play Cincinnati Moeller in a state quarterfinal Saturday in Stow.

"They play with a lot of emotion, and when they're playing well, they're tough to beat," senior middle-blocker Ben Gentry said. "I think we got lazy and let some plays go. We just didn't play the fundamental volleyball that Kilbourne is used to playing."

Kilbourne, which finished 16-10 overall, watched a sizable advantage disappear in the third game.

"We had too many times when we put together a bunch of errors and that gave them the momentum, and they're a team that thrives on that," coach Glynda Rice said. "We had the lead at the end of game three and we gave it to them. Our goal was to be consistent and we didn't do that."

During the regular season, Darby defeated the Wolves 25-15, 27-29, 25-18, 20-25, 17-15 on April 7 before Kilbourne evened the score 25-23, 25-19, 27-25 on April 30.

The two finished atop the league standings ahead of Hilliard Davidson (6-4), Dublin Coffman (4-6), Upper Arlington (2-8) and Thomas Worthington (0-10).

"It was real disappointing not to reach the state tournament my senior year, but we still had a really good year," setter and outside-hitter John Barry said. "When we were in control, that's when we played the best. But what can you do? It is what it is."

Barry and Gentry, who were first-team all-region and first-team all-league, led the Wolves in nearly every statistical category. Barry was second-team all-state and Gentry received honorable mention.

"John and Ben have basically devoted themselves to volleyball," Rice said. "We were either successful on their shoulders or we tripped on their shoulders. We gave them a lot of responsibility this year and they lived up to it."

Rice will be relying on sophomores Connor Peck (6-foot-3 middle blocker), Jacob Wood (6-2 outside hitter) and Chad Ellwood (5-8 outside hitter and setter) and junior Colin Hackworth (6-8 outside hitter) next year. Kilbourne should be one of the biggest teams in the state.

• Thomas will have a number of returning seniors next season as it looks to better its finish at 3-15 after a 25-14, 25-10, 25-9 loss to Kilbourne in the first round of the tournament May 16.

Coach Chris Manganello watched his team improve by season's end, but didn't have a complete roster.

"By the time we played Kilbourne in the first round of the tournament, I only had six players available to me," he said. "We had 11 guys to start, but two of them got hurt and two others had to leave the team to focus on grades."

One of the wounded was senior co-captain Nick Murden, who missed the postseason with an injured pinky finger. He was honorable mention all-league and honorable mention all-region.

A strong junior class in co-captain Shane Whitacre (6-1 setter and outside hitter), Zach Weinrich (6-0 outside and middle hitter), Chase Rodwell (6-0 outside and middle hitter) is expected to return next season with sophomore David Jusu (5-10 outside hitter).

"By the end of the season I think we were getting it, but then the season ends," Manganello said. "We had two freshmen who played a lot and everybody lettered so that will definitely help us next year with experience."

At a glance

KILBOURNE

•Record: 16-10 overall, 9-1 (tied for first) in OCC-Ohio

•Seniors lost: John Barry, Ben Gentry, Sam Johnson, Thomas Kramer and Jake Schick

•Key returnees: Colin Hackworth, Chad Ellwood, Conner Peck and Jacob Wood

THOMAS

•Record: 3-15 overall, 0-10 (sixth) in OCC-Ohio

•Senior lost: Nick Murden

•Key returnees: Brian Gifford, David Jusu, Chase Rodwell, Zach Weinrich and Shane Whitacre