FAIRBORN — For the second year in a row, the Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team built a 2-1 lead in games in a Division I state semifinal against a power from Cincinnati.
And like last season, the Shamrocks ended up on the short end of a five-game match, as they lost to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy 25-21, 25-27, 21-25, 25-21, 15-5 on Nov. 9 at Wright State University.
Coffman, which lost in five games to Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in a state semifinal a year ago, finished 25-3. Ursuline Academy improved to 27-1 and will play Cleveland St. Joseph Academy in the state championship match Nov. 11.
“A few things fell their way in the fifth set, and it’s all about the momentum in the fifth set,” Shamrocks coach Mary Anne Souder said.
Statistically, there was little difference between Coffman and Ursuline Academy, as both teams finished with 148 digs — a number that caught Souder by surprise.
The Shamrocks’ strength all season has been their defense, and Dana Axner finished with 41 digs while Riley Wagoner had 38 and Jacy Sheldon added 36.
“We knew it would be close all the way and that we’d have to fight,” Souder said. “Their defense matched our defense, and I think they had a few more offensive weapons.”
Coffman, which also lost to Ursuline Academy in five games in a regular-season match on Aug. 26, trailed 24-18 in the second game before coming back to tie the score at 24 on a kill by Sheldon. The Shamrocks fell behind 25-24, but scored the final three points of the game, with a kill by Carmen Haefke closing it out.
In the third game, Coffman led 21-20 before scoring four of the final five points, with Wagoner’s service ace giving the Shamrocks a two-games-to-one lead.
Ursuline Academy built leads of 14-7 and 18-11 in the fourth game. The Shamrocks got as close as 24-21, but the Lions closed out the game, and controlled the action throughout the fifth game.