The Hilliard Darby High School boys volleyball team's primary goal this season was to repeat as Division I state champion.

The Hilliard Darby High School boys volleyball team's primary goal this season was to repeat as Division I state champion.

The Panthers fell short in their quest, as they lost to Cincinnati Moeller 22-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-23, 15-11 in a state semifinal May 29 at Capital University.

"That was just a tremendous match between two great teams," coach Bryan Webb said. "We played about as well as we could and had a 2-1 lead and (Moeller) played as well as they could possibly play. You could tell that a lot of work and focus is put on volleyball between our programs."

The Panthers, who were making their 12th appearance at state, had beaten Moeller 18-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22 on April 16 and 17-25, 19-25, 25-17, 26-24, 15-11 on April 30.

Moeller coach Matt McLaughlin, whose team was making its 14th state appearance, echoed Webb's thoughts.

"I believe Darby is better than they were last year and, quite honestly, probably the best and most talented team in the state," said McLaughlin, whose team went on to lose to Cincinnati Elder 25-18, 25-18, 25-23 in the state final May 29 to finish 22-7. "We played at an absolutely fantastic level to beat them.

"This was probably the best match ever played in the state tournament. I know it's the best one I've ever been involved in as a coach or player. It was such a high-quality match. We played our best match of the season."

Mason Moldovan had 19 kills and six blocks and Robert Bowling had 17 kills and two aces to lead Darby, which finished 24-4. Colin Buelow added six kills and two blocks, Ian Cowen had five kills, two blocks and 39 assists, and Patrick Snyder had three kills and five blocks.

Darby 3,Beavercreek 0

Darby cruised past Beavercreek 25-11, 25-18, 25-14 in a state quarterfinal May 28 at Capital.

Robert Bowling had 10 kills, Mason Moldovan had nine kills, three blocks and three aces and Ian Cowen had 22 assists, four kills, two blocks and an ace for the defending state champion Panthers, who improved to 22-3 and advanced to play Cincinnati Moeller (21-6) in a state semifinal at 10 a.m. May 29 at Capital.

The semifinal winner plays Centerville (19-8) or Cincinnati Elder (21-6) in the state final at 4 p.m. May 29 at Capital.

"We played much better than we did (in a 25-18, 25-10, 25-21 win over Olentangy in the East Region final May 20) and had far fewer unforced errors," Darby coach Bryan Webb said. "We didn't have anyone struggle and they were all involved and ready to go.

"Ian obviously was very strong, as we expect him to be. Everyone here got to see a very special player. He gives us a good mixture of calmness and fire, depending on the moment and what we need."

Darby, which is making its 12th state appearance, is seeking its third state championship. In addition to last season, the Panthers won the title in 2013.

Beavercreek finished 16-10.

Centerville 3, Pickerington North 0

Pickerington North's dream season came to an end against a near mirror image.

The Panthers had chances to win every game of their Division I state quarterfinal against Centerville on May 28 at Capital, but the Elks responded to every surge with one of their own to defeat North 25-23, 30-28, 26-24.

Dejon Clark had 17 kills and 15 assists to lead North, which was making its first state appearance and finished 22-6. Bryce Johnson added 14 kills and 16 assists.

"We matched up well and we figured it would come down to a play here or there," Panthers coach Marci Truex said. "It could have gone either way. Our guys played their hardest and gave everything they had. It was a great match. Sometimes when you get to the point where you can see the end of the line, nerves can creep up in there. We didn't make the plays that we needed to make at those crucial times."

Sam Schindler had 16 kills and three blocks and Aaron Klaus had 20 blocks and seven digs to lead Centerville, which is making its 22nd state appearance.

-Dave Purpura

Kettering Alter 3, DeSales 0

DeSales struggled with serve receive, which threw off its passing and hurt its offense in a 25-18, 25-18, 25-20 loss to defending state champion Alter in a Division II state semifinal May 28 at Capital.

The contest was a rematch of last year's state final, which Alter won 26-24, 20-25, 20-25, 29-27, 15-12.

"They were real good and we didn't pass well at all and made 30 unforced errors, 19 hitting errors, eight service errors and three ball-handling errors," DeSales coach Andy Feltz said. "We sided-out at 54 percent and they were above 70 percent, which isn't a recipe for victory.

"We just weren't sharp receiving the first ball and that led us to pressing and hitting into their double- and triple-blocks. Also, their hitters were very good and hit at very sharp angles."

Trent Hopson had 12 kills and Girvan Warren had eight kills and four blocks for the Stallions, who finished 18-7.

Alter improved to 24-3 and advanced to play Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in the final May 29.

-Brad Emerine