The St. Charles Preparatory School volleyball team found the right beat and tempo in the Division II East Region tournament.
The top-seeded Cardinals were in sync and flowing as a unit when they defeated seventh-seeded Dublin Scioto 25-8, 25-8, 25-17 in a semifinal May 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.
"It's kind of been like an orchestra at the end of the year," said coach Ned Gruber, whose team was ranked second in the final state poll behind Kettering Alter. "Everyone just goes out there and plays and it's been beautiful.
"We were balanced on offense with everyone contributing. It was just a lot of fun to watch because it looked like it was all coming together well."
St. Charles was 21-5 before playing third-seeded Watterson in a regional final May 25 at Westerville Central. The Eagles defeated second-seeded and host Kilbourne 17-25, 26-24, 25-17, 25-21 in the other semifinal.
The regional champion advanced to the state tournament Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3, at Capital. Possible opponents in a semifinal were fifth-ranked Cincinnati La Salle, Cincinnati McNicholas, Hamilton Badin or St. Bernard Roger Bacon.
The Cardinals' last regional championship was in 2011. They then lost to Akron Hoban 25-23, 25-27, 26-24, 25-20 in a Division II state semifinal.
"We are very well-rounded right now," Gruber said. "Alex McLane had kills; Nathan Lancia had kills along with Ted Hofmeister, Andrew Dilley and Jack Schumacher. It's been very balanced. From start to finish, (the regional semifinal) was the cleanest match we have played all year."
Last season, the Cardinals were seeded second in the East Region tournament but lost to third-seeded Mount Vernon 25-20, 21-25, 12-25, 25-17, 15-12 in a semifinal. McLane didn't want that to be the case again.
"(Reaching a regional final) is huge for the program, especially after falling short last year," he said. "I know I really took it to heart and worked hard in the offseason to get better, and I know everyone else did as well. I feel like this is a great step in the right direction and we can carry this momentum on further."
McLane had eight kills and six digs against the Irish, and Lancia had 14 kills, two aces and five digs. Dilley had six kills, two aces and two blocks, and Hofmeister had four kills, three digs and one ace. Kevin Gallagher had 13 digs and two aces, and Jake Franz had 39 assists and five aces.
"Jake Franz was putting up great balls as our setter," Gruber said. "He was spreading it out and he's so consistent right now. He has come a long way. He worked on it in club and he's so solid right now."
Shepardson qualifies for state track meet
The only competitor for the track and field team in the Division I regional meet, Grant Shepardson advanced to state.
On May 23 at Pickerington North, the senior was second in the long jump in a personal-best 21 feet, 8 3/4 inches. The top four finishers in each event advanced to state Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
Shepardson had his runner-up performance in his third preliminary jump and held on throughout the three jumps in the finals to earn his first state appearance.
"Grant did a great job," coach John Leskovich said. "He had that great jump in the preliminaries going against a headwind and was able to advance in a great field that had a bunch of 22- and 23-foot jumpers."
The regional meet concluded May 25.
Shepardson was fourth (21-5) in the district 3 meet May 16 at Hilliard Darby and won a CCL title with a 21-3 1/2 on May 8 at Hartley.
"Grant has done a great job of handling pressure in the last couple of weeks," Leskovich said. "He won the CCL, was fourth at district and continued to improve each week. I think he has a little more in him. I don't think he's done going farther."
Doubles team competes at state
Senior Jack Dabek and freshman Reese Yakubov represented the tennis team in the Division I state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
They opened doubles competition May 25 against Nate Day and Richie Hofstra of Cleveland St. Ignatius, with the winner playing Mayfield's Kevin Ng and Yukun Wang or Cincinnati Sycamore's Alex Karev and Jacob Wittenbaum in the second round.
The second-round winners were guaranteed at least fourth place.