The third-seededOlentangy High School girls v olleyball team used its height and a few key runs to defeat second-seeded Pickerington North 25-19, 25-27, 29-27, 25-15 on Saturday in a Division I district final atLicking Heights.

"We knew it would be (a hard-fought match)," said Olentangy coach Michelle Mimna, whose team improved to 23-2 and advanced to a regional semifinal Thursday at Hilliard Davidson against Dublin Coffman. "We knew it was going to be a defensive battle. We were just able to pull it out.

"At the beginning, we weren't blocking as well. Once they start doing it, it's very difficult to get around five kids that are 6-foot or taller."

"I just think all of us have so much heart and determination, and we all work together," Olentangy middle hitter Lauren Grover said. "It came down to who wanted it more."

Olentangy was up 11-10 in the opening game, but then went on a 10-2 run en route to a 1-0 lead. North then got out to an 8-3 lead in the second game and had the lead until Olentangy worked it to a 22-all tie. The game was tied twice more before the Panthers, who finished 24-1,scored two consecutive points to tie the match.

A back-and-forth third game saw the Braves ahead 19-15 before what could have been a match-changing play. North libero Kacie Kunke had a hustling back-to-the-net dig to keep a play alive, and that began a 5-0 spurt for the Panthers.

But Olentangy was able to withstand that, tie the game at 26, then score the last three points of the game to take a 2-1 advantage. The Braves were able to carry that momentum into the fourth game, taking an 8-1 lead en route to the district championship.

For Olentangy, Amanda Halls had 18 kills, Kristin Farris and Grover had four blocks and Kristin Hargrove led the team in digs.
Audrey Sanders had 15 kills for the Panthers.

"We didn't want to play not to lose. We wanted to play to win, and we sure did," North coach Kris Kern said. "I am as proud of these kids, had they won or lost. They gave it everything they had."