Alex McLane was ready for his prime-time moment.
The junior outside hitter slammed down the kill that gave the St. Charles Preparatory School volleyball team its second Division II state championship with a 25-19, 14-25, 25-16, 28-26 victory over top-ranked Kettering Alter on June 3 at Capital University.
The second-ranked Cardinals finished 23-5 and avenged a 25-22, 19-25, 25-18 loss to the Knights on March 24 at Mount Vernon. It was their first championship since 2009 when they defeated Akron Hoban 25-16, 25-20, 25-19 in the final at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.
"I just live for those moments like that," said McLane, who had 11 kills in the match. "You work so hard and do everything you can just to get there, and then you're in that moment.
"I love it when we are down in the score, everything is against you and no one thinks you're going to do it. I want to show what we got and show our resilience. I live for those moments."
The Cardinals showed that resilience in the fourth game, trailing 20-16 before rallying. At that point, coach Ned Gruber looked to his brother, assistant coach Joe Gruber, to discuss strategy for a possible fifth game.
"You have to be prepared, so Joe and I were figuring out whether to take (which) side (of the net) or serve for the fifth game," said Ned Gruber, who was a senior all-state outside hitter when the Cardinals won the state title in 2009. "We prepare for moments like that in practice with a drill we call 'speedball.' It starts with a serve and then everyone does everything. There was one time (against Alter) where (senior) Andrew Dilley was out there setting and he's a middle hitter. He never sets. It's just a testament to our style and how hard our players work."
Junior outside hitter Nathan Lancia said his team doesn't get rattled when it falls behind. The teams were tied at 5 in the second game before the Knights scored 14 consecutive points to seize momentum.
"Our coaches do a great job of preparing us for when we get down like that," said Lancia, who had 26 kills and two aces. "There's one drill where we are down 24-17 and we have to come back and win. We practice like that all the time."
Junior setter Jake Franz had 54 assists, junior middle hitter Jack Schumacher had eight kills and three blocks and Dilley had six kills and two aces.
The Knights, who won the last four state titles, finished 23-4.
"To beat the team that has won it the last four years is amazing and to be able to have so many fans here cheering us on helped a lot," senior libero Kevin Gallagher said. "It's amazing to go out like this in your final high school match. To finish it by winning with your teammates is amazing."
McLane also had the match-clinching kill in a 25-15, 25-23, 25-22 victory over fifth-ranked Cincinnati La Salle in a state semifinal June 2. He led the Cardinals with 21 kills and two blocks, while Lancia had 14 kills and two blocks and Franz had 43 assists and five kills.
Top-seeded St. Charles beat third-seeded Watterson 25-20, 25-19, 25-11 in the Division II East Region final May 25 at Westerville Central to capture its first regional title since 2011.
Shepardson competes at state track meet
Grant Shepardson competed in the long jump at the Division I state track and field meet June 2 at Ohio State, but the senior fouled on all three of his attempts.
On May 23 in the regional at Pickerington North, Shepardson was second in a personal-best 21 feet, 8 3/4 inches. The Cardinals tied Dublin Jerome and Eastmoor Academy for 20th (8 points) behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
"I just never got my steps down (at state)," said Shepardson, who will compete at Wittenberg. "I only had the one jump at regional, but I fouled on four of the (six) attempts so I have been doing that a lot lately."
St. Charles did not score at state. Central (58) won as 69 teams scored.
Doubles team places second at state
Senior Jack Dabek and freshman Reese Yakubov finished second in doubles in the Division I state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
The pair lost to New Albany's Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the final. They were up 5-2 in the second set, but Dabek started having leg cramps.
"It's hard to say what turned it around," third-year coach Max Quinton said. "We were two shots away from the state championship. (Boyer and Jose) made some good shots and it gave them the momentum back and from there they hung onto it.
"(Dabek and Yakubov) had a tough one (earlier in the day) that probably contributed to our injury. Jack started cramping really bad so we worked on that and he couldn't move in the third set, and that was pretty much the difference."
On May 25, the pair defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius' Nate Day and Richie Hofstra 6-1, 6-1 and Cincinnati Sycamore's Alex Karev and Jacob Wittenbaum 6-1, 6-1. They defeated Sycamore's Sam Marcus and Nathan Zhang 7-6, 6-3 in a semifinal May 26.
"There are a lot of good players out there that don't ever get (this) opportunity and (Dabek has) been here (to state) three times," Quinton said.
Dabek and Yakubov won the district title May 19 at Olympic Indoor Tennis Club by defeating Boyer and Jose 7-5, 6-1.
Senior Patrick O'Neil and the doubles team of seniors Matt Morrison and Quyen Thai also competed at district.
Juniors Brendan Finn and Ben Wolfe also were in the postseason lineup. Both went 1-1 in a sectional May 10 at Pickerington Central.
Dabek and Yakubov defeated Morrison and Thai 6-2, 6-0 in the sectional doubles final May 12.
The Cardinals finished 9-6 overall and won their seventh consecutive CCL championship by going 4-0, finishing ahead of Watterson (3-1), DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3) and Ready (0-4).
Lacrosse team led by 11 seniors
The lacrosse team's 11 seniors helped ease the transition for first-year coach Patrick Harnett.
The fourth-seeded Cardinals finished 11-7, losing to 12th-seeded Centerville 8-7 on May 15 at home in their Division I, Region 3 tournament opener.
Defender Keaton Doon and attacker Will Morrison both were honorable mention all-region to lead the senior class.
"Our seniors accomplished a great deal together this season, and they helped to lay a new foundation in my first year as head coach," Harnett said. "That foundation will serve as a springboard to success for the future."
Junior goalkeeper Zach Lowis was named second-team all-region. Also expected back are juniors Evan Bouscher (midfielder) and Max Lyski (midfielder) and sophomores Karson Doon (attacker) and Luke Eversole (defender).
"Collectively this is a young, talented group that is full of positive energy," Harnett said. "We expect to return 45 players next year, and our guys are aware of the opportunity that lies ahead of them."