The Hilliard Darby High School boys volleyball team overcame some early jitters and pulled out a 22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 15-10 win over Cincinnati St. Xavier in a Division I state quarterfinal June 2 at Capital University.
The Panthers improved to 20-8 and will continue their quest for a third state title when they face Clayton Northmont in a state semifinal at 10 a.m. June 3 at Capital. The state final is scheduled for 4 p.m. June 3.
“(Setter) Noah Platfoot was outstanding and helped us overcome some of those jitters with strong leadership and great passing and he got the ball to the hot hitters,” Panthers coach Evan Bell said. “We had a lot of unforced errors in the two games we lost. I thought Dominic (Melchiorre) had a strong match and he’s our most improved player this year. Adam Ansel made a lot of key plays at the net, too.
“Collin Buelow didn’t have his best match, unfortunately, but he got rolling late in the third game and that was very much needed because that was the key game.”
In the fifth game, Darby broke a 6-all tie to take an 11-7 lead, as Buelow had a pair of his 18 kills.
Ansel had 12 kills and two blocks and Melchiorre added 10 kills for the Panthers, who won state championships in 2013 and 2015 and were state runners-up last season.
St. Xavier finished 20-4.
Cincinnati Moeller 3, Olentangy 1
Making its first state tournament appearance, Olentangy got out to a strong start against top-ranked Moeller in a Division I state quarterfinal June 2 at Capital, but fell to the Crusaders 23-25, 31-29, 25-22, 25-21 to finish 23-5.
The Braves won the opening game and rallied from a 23-18 deficit in the second game to take a 24-23 lead, but couldn’t get the winning point. They then staved off three game points by Moeller and took a 28-27 lead, but again couldn’t get the winning point and went on to lose the game.
The third game was tied 17 times before the Crusaders scored the final three points, and Olentangy trailed 20-13 in the fourth game but rallied to pull within 22-20 before Moeller closed out the match.
Moeller improve to 24-1 and will play Beavercreek or Massillon Jackson in a state semifinal June 3.
“We did everything we could and maybe we got a little fatigued in the fourth game because games 2 and 3 really took it out of us,” Braves coach Karen Kochheiser said. “I didn’t sub as much today, either. We have a lot of seniors and played them because we’ve relied on them so much. Our only full-time junior is our setter (Zane Nelson).
“That third game was so tight all the way through and we just expended a lot of energy, and when you do that and come up short, it does take a lot out of you. But I’m so proud of our guys. This was (Moeller’s) 15th time in the state tournament and our first and I think we let them know who we are.”
Kurt Freeman led the Braves with 14 kills and five blocks and Aaric Gossett had 13 kills. Jack Spohn added eight kills and four blocks and Jamir Benton had six kills and four blocks.
“We had some trouble running our offense through the middle because our serve receive wasn’t as crisp as usual,” Kochheiser said. “We also struggled to communicate as well as normal because of the noise. Still, I couldn’t be happier for our seniors, although we all wanted to play tomorrow, for sure.”
St. Charles 3, Cincinnati La Salle 0
Second-ranked St. Charles has yet to lose a game this postseason, sweeping fifth-ranked La Salle 25-15, 25-23, 25-22 in a Division II semifinal June 2 at Capital.
The Cardinals improved to 23-5 and will play top-ranked Kettering Alter in the state final at 2 p.m. June 3 at Capital. It’s their first state final appearance since 2011.
Alter (23-3) defeated fourth-ranked Akron Hoban 25-17, 25-13, 25-20 in the other semifinal.
“Our chemistry is great right now and we’re all having fun on the court,” St. Charles senior libero Kevin Gallagher said. “Chemistry and playing as a team have been more important than skill for us.”
Alex McLane led the Cardinals with 21 kills and two blocks, while Nathan Lancia had 14 kills and two blocks and Jake Franz had 43 assists and five kills. Jack Schumacher added eight kills.
La Salle finished 12-11.