As was the case the first three times the Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team qualified for the Division I state tournament, it left this year's event without the championship.

As was the case the first three times the Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team qualified for the Division I state tournament, it left this year's event without the championship.

The way the Shamrocks are viewing their latest experience, though, is that their window for winning the title is far from closed.

Of the 10 players who saw action during Coffman's 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 15-10 loss to Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in a state semifinal Nov. 10 at Wright State University, eight are eligible to return.

Coffman finished 24-4 overall, while Mount Notre Dame -- which had five key seniors -- went on to lose to Brecksville-Broadview Heights in four sets in the championship match Nov. 12 to finish 19-11. Mount Notre Dame was seeking its fourth consecutive state title.

"This will definitely drive us in the future," junior libero Dana Axner said. "We're going to be even more focused next year and are going to want to win it even more than this year."

Coffman led Mount Notre Dame two sets to one and held a 23-19 lead in the fourth set but couldn't close out the Cougars.

Mount Notre Dame scored the final six points of the fourth set and then rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 8-6 in the fifth set.

Last season, Coffman lost to the Cougars 25-23, 25-23, 25-20 in the state final.

"They're three-time defending state champs and it's a little bit in their favor to be that," coach Mary Anne Souder said. "We've not been able to win that title yet and we want to do that. I think we're getting closer. I think we're young enough that we'll be back again and get it next year. I'm just proud that we're this young and we're this good."

Coffman went 10-0 to win the OCC-Central Division, finishing ahead of Hilliard Davidson (8-2), Upper Arlington (6-4), Marysville (4-6), Central Crossing (2-8) and Westland (0-10).

The Shamrocks, who have won 125 consecutive league matches and 10 consecutive league titles, were the top seed in the district tournament. They beat 35th-seeded Marion Harding 25-10, 25-10,2 5-5 on Oct. 19, 23rd-seeded Delaware 25-11, 25-14, 25-18 on Oct. 26 and 13th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 25-14, 25-6, 25-14 on Oct. 29 to win their 10th consecutive district title.

Coffman then beat DeSales 25-23, 25-15, 25-19 on Nov. 3 and Gahanna 25-12, 25-15, 25-22 on Nov. 5 to win the regional title and advance to state.

The Shamrocks are losing two seniors in Gabby McCloy (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Rika Yoshimura (defensive specialist), who were named second-team all-league and special mention all-league, respectively.

Axner and sophomores Riley Wagoner (outside hitter/middle hitter) and Jacy Sheldon (opposite/setter) were first-team all-league, junior Jenn Schulze (setter) made second-team all-league and sophomore Carmen Haefke (middle hitter) was honorable mention all-league.

Wagoner led Coffman with 458 kills, Axner led in digs with 550, Sheldon had 325 digs and Schulze led with 773 assists.

"It definitely means a lot that we're back (at state)," Sheldon said. "That was our goal to get here and go as far as we could. Our seniors were great. They were really great leaders. We had a really good season overall but came up a little short."

Bons among boys runners set to return

A fifth-place finish (15 minutes, 16.3 seconds) by junior Lucas Bons in the Division I state meet Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway was among the highlights for the boys cross country team this season.

Of the 10 athletes who competed for the Shamrocks in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 15 at Hilliard Bradley, eight are eligible to return.

Coffman placed second (36 points) in the league meet, behind Davidson (29) and ahead of Central Crossing (80), Marysville (86), UA (130) and Westland (187).

Bons won the league title (15:32.84), was runner-up (15:21.35) in the 16-team district 2 meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial and placed fourth (15:49.05) in the regional Oct. 29 at Pickerington North.

Coffman finished fifth (131) at district behind champion Davidson (74) and 11th (246) at regional behind champion Thomas Worthington (71).

"We qualified as a team for the regional meet and just didn't have our best race at the regional," coach Chad Biegler said.

"We had a chance to finish much higher than we did with our 11th-place finish, but we gained some good experience this year, as five of our top seven were not varsity team runners last season."

Freshman Alex Deidu was Coffman's No. 2 runner at regional, placing 37th (17:03.2). Also competing at regional were senior Joe Donnelly, juniors Ryan Bosworth, Brendan Flynn and Arnaldo Gonzalez-Calero and sophomore Cameron Hull.

z"Only one of our top seven runners, Joe Donnelly, was a senior this season, so that leaves us positioned to have a much better team finish next season," Biegler said. "We're hoping that Ryan Bosworth and Alex Deidu both evolve into elite, state-qualifying runners next season to back up (Bons). Lucas ran a great race at the state meet. ... It was very satisfying to see him run so well."

Girls runners finished strong

After battling through injuries throughout the regular season, the girls cross country team finished 11th (255) in the Division I regional meet, behind champion Gahanna (97), and had a state qualifier in junior Ellie Weber.

Weber placed 105th (19:48.1) at state.

"Overall, this was a tale of two seasons," coach Greg King said.

"For the first two-thirds, we were dealing with a couple key injuries, including one to our returning individual state-meet qualifier, and a bunch of illnesses. The postseason, on the other hand, went about as well as we could have hoped. Getting the team to the regional and finishing 11th in the region was great. Getting Ellie to the state meet was fantastic."

Junior Delaney Marsalek, who was a state qualifier a year ago, was among those who battled injuries. She was the team's No. 3 runner at regional, finishing 66th (21:23.46) behind Weber (18th, 20:10.23) and sophomore Leah Jablonski (40th, 20:45.5).

The only seniors to compete in the OCC-Central meet were Melissa Mangelson and Aimee Gradless, who were Coffman's No. 7 and 8 runners at the meet.

The Shamrocks placed fourth (81) in the league meet, behind Davidson (31), UA (60) and Marysville (68) and ahead of Central Crossing (148).

Also eligible to return after being key contributors are juniors Janelle Gans, Mackenzie Meshcer and Ava Reed and freshmen Grace Marsalek and Emma Niswonger.

"I'm optimistic about next year," King said. "We'll have Ellie and Delaney, who have both been state-meet qualifiers. We'll also have Leah Jablonski and we have four of our next five runners returning as well. We should be able to move up in the central Ohio and OCC standings."