Being involved in epic state-tournament matches is becoming a habit for the Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team.

In 2010, the Shamrocks set the five-set match record for digs in Division I with 131 in a victory over Cincinnati Ursuline Academy, only to lose in the state championship match the next day.

Then a year ago, Coffman lost to Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in five sets in a state semifinal.

In a state semifinal Nov. 9 at Wright State University, Coffman and Ursuline Academy again were involved in a match that will go down in the record book because of the defense they displayed.

With seniors Dana Axner (libero) and Jennifer Schulze (setter) and juniors Jacy Sheldon (opposite) and Riley Wagoner (outside hitter) leading the way, Coffman had 148 digs to break the five-set record they established seven years earlier.

On the other side of the court, Ursuline Academy matched that mark with 148 digs of its own and Maggie Huber set the individual state-tournament record for a Division I match with 56 digs as the Lions won 25-21, 25-27, 21-25, 25-21, 15-5.

"It was all about the defense," Coffman coach Mary Anne Souder said. "We were trying to serve them out of system. They had really good serve-receive, and (the Lions') Logan Case is a great setter and put them right back in system. It was just point for point. The stats are fairly even, just like the (match) was."

Axner, who has committed to play for Florida Gulf Coast University, had 41 digs in the match, followed by Wagoner (38), Sheldon (36) and Schulze (21), a Miami University commit.

Coffman, which finished 25-3 overall, led two sets to one before running out of answers beginning in the fourth set.

"I think (the Lions) got a couple good digs and that gave them a little bit of life, and that just carried them through," Wagoner said.

Wagoner had 28 kills in the match and the Shamrocks had 69 overall, but Ursuline Academy set another state-tournament record in a five-set match with 75 kills.

The Lions also had 25 attack errors compared to 30 for Coffman, whose only regular-season losses were to Ursuline Academy and Division I regional runner-up Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame Academy.

The Shamrocks entered state on a 15-match winning streak.

"Every set we had to keep pushing," Axner said. "Momentum in volleyball can change in just a couple points. I think a couple things just fell their way and not ours. After we lost last year, we said we were going to come back and were going to win it this year. After everything we put into it, it's really hard, but I'm proud of everything that we've done."

Axner, who led the OCC-Central Division with 485 digs and tied for first in the league with 42 serving aces, and Schulze, who led in the league with 708 assists, are the only seniors in the program.

They both made first-team all-league along with Sheldon and Wagoner, who was named league and district Player of the Year.

Junior middle hitter Carmen Haefke and sophomore opposite hitter Mackenzie Curry were second-team all-league, junior middle hitter Kaitlyn Kopyar was special mention all-league and junior defensive specialist Lexi Piekarski was honorable mention all-league.

The Shamrocks won their 11th consecutive league championship, going 10-0 in the OCC-Central to finish ahead of Hilliard Davidson and Upper Arlington (both 7-3), Marysville (4-6) and Central Crossing and Westland (both 1-9), and have won 135 consecutive league matches.

The top seed in the district tournament, Coffman beat 42nd-seeded Marion Harding 25-3, 25-8, 25-10 on Oct. 18, 25th-seeded Scioto 25-18, 25-12, 25-18 in a district semifinal Oct. 25 and ninth-seeded Pickerington Central 25-11, 25-12, 25-18 in a district final Oct. 28.

The Shamrocks then beat Olentangy Orange 25-15, 26-24, 25-11 in a regional semifinal Nov. 2 and DeSales 25-13, 25-18, 25-21 in a regional final Nov. 4 to reach state for the third consecutive year and fifth overall.

Over the last three seasons with Axner, Schulze, Sheldon and Wagoner as key players, Coffman went a combined 75-10.

This season, Wagoner had a team-best 456 kills and was second on the team in digs with 300. Sheldon had 284 digs.

Curry, who is one of two players listed on the roster at 6-foot-1, also played in all five sets in the state semifinal.

Others who saw playing time in the state semifinal were Sadie Brown, a 6-1 sophomore opposite hitter, and freshman defensive specialist Kendal Kolba.

Also on the state-tournament roster were junior Chiharu Mochizuki (defensive specialist) and sophomores Angel Barrett (outside hitter), Maddy Mayr (defensive specialist) and Arianna Rowe (setter).

Although the Shamrocks are losing their setter and libero to graduation, Souder is optimistic that there are options on the roster to fill those roles.

"(Ursuline Academy had) quite a few seniors," Souder said.

"We have two, but they're very strong seniors. They've really carried us this season. (Sheldon and Wagoner) are juniors but have been six-rotation players since their freshman season. They play like seniors."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek