The season ended for the Pickerington High School North girls volleyball team, but not without an effort that pleased coach Kris Kern.

The season ended for the Pickerington High School North girls volleyball team, but not without an effort that pleased coach Kris Kern.

"They gave it everything they had," Kern said after the second-seeded Panthers lost to third-seeded Olentangy 25-19, 25-27, 29-27, 25-15 last Saturday in a Division I district final at Licking Heights to finish 24-1. "They're running into walls. We walk out of here with our head up.

"You don't see a lot of tears because we gave it everything we had. I am so proud of our effort. I'm just so proud of this program, where it's come in three years."

The record, and being in the district title match, continues a steady progression for the Panthers.

"We lost in the (second round) my first year and won 22 matches," Kern said. "Last year, we lost in a district semifinal and won 23 matches. This year, we won 24 matches and lost in the district final, so we're taking steps every year.

"It's because of the dedication and the love of our seniors to lead this team."

"I'm sad that we lost, but this is tremendous," senior libero Kacie Kunke said. "It's so great that we actually got this far. I hope next year they win district."

After winning the second game to even the match, the Panthers found themselves trailing 19-15 in the third. That's when Kunke turned in a diving save of a ball which was headed for the back wall of the gym, with her back to the net.

"Everyone here that paid $6 to get in saw a great defensive team," Kern said. "They may never see another defensive team like we had tonight."

"We're lights-out," Kunke said. "We're not going to give up. I don't think we gave up once this season."

The point started a 5-0 run for the Panthers, but Olentangy, after a timeout, went on to win the third game, and then the fourth to advance.

Audrey Sanders had 15 kills for North.

In a 25-18, 25-13, 25-13 win over Worthington Kilbourne on Oct. 23 in a district semifinal, North was down 12-11 in the second game before scoring 12 points in a row to put the game, and, effectively, the match away. Gina Borgan had 11 consecutive service points during the run.

Kunke was 23-for-25 passing, Audra Goldsberry was 21-for-23 passing, Madison Spence had 41 assists, Sanders had 10 kills, Erica Hardy had seven kills and Borgan had 21 service points.

North will lose seniors Kunke, Hardy, Emily Bucher, Goldsberry and Borgan.

"They're never going to be accused of being the tallest or the fastest or the strongest, but they have as much heart as any team I've ever coached," Kern said. "It's just a wonderful, wonderful tribute to the seniors that they could lead this team.

"I'm thankful to be the head coach here. I'm thankful for these kids and this program, and they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of."