For the third time in program history, the Watterson High School boys volleyball team had to settle for a state runner-up trophy.

The eighth-ranked Eagles lost to sixth-ranked Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 in the Division II state final June 2 at Capital to finish 17-10.

Watterson also was state runner-up in 2002 and 2014.

“We knew the journey (to state) would be a lot of ball-control, skilled teams and at the very top of the summit was a lot of athleticism and a lot of height from Walsh Jesuit,” coach Ryan Thompson said. “You just can’t practice against height if you don’t have it yourself, and that showed.”

In the second set, Watterson was as close as 9-7 and 11-9 before the Warriors built leads of 18-12 and 23-14. The Eagles were as close as 20-18 in the third set before Walsh Jesuit closed out the match.

Outside hitter Jack Brinkman had 14 kills, libero Brendan Foley had 10 digs and setter Jake Maziarz had 36 assists to lead Watterson.

Walsh Jesuit, which was making its second state final appearance after losing to Kettering Alter for the title in 2016, finished 18-10.

“You’ve just got to give credit to them for being a good team,” Eagles middle hitter/outside hitter Lucas Mariotti said.

Division I

Cincinnati St. Xavier 3, Hilliard Darby 0

Top-ranked Darby fell short of its third Division I state championship, losing to second-ranked St. Xavier 25-14, 25-22, 25-12 in a state semifinal June 2 at Capital.

The Panthers, who had beaten the Bombers 25-16, 25-21, 25-15 on April 27 in the Centerville Elite tournament, finished 26-3.

“We’ve been in the final four for 10 straight years now and the expectations and aspirations are high every year, so anything short of winning it all always stings,” said coach Evan Bell, whose team lost to an Ohio opponent for the first time this season. “We had a tremendous season, but that doesn’t lessen the pain any at this moment.

“Having those expectations is kind of the half-empty or half-full glass. But we wouldn’t want it the other way. You keep striving to be the best and live with the disappointment if it comes. That provides motivation for the next year. What’s the alternative? We’d rather get here every year and give ourselves a chance to reach the ultimate goal of winning it all.”

Brian Mauch had 10 kills and nine blocks and Will Connaughton had 10 kills and 14 digs to lead St. Xavier, which played fifth-ranked Cincinnati Moeller in the state final June 2.

Adam Ansel led Darby with eight kills and three blocks and Dominic Melchiorre had four kills and two blocks. Noah Platfoot had three kills and three aces and Jared Kish added three kills for the Panthers.

Darby was state runner-up the past two seasons, losing to Moeller 25-22, 25-22, 25-18 a year ago after falling to Cleveland St. Ignatius 25-18, 26-24, 25-19 in 2017. The Panthers won state titles in 2013 and 2015.

Darby’s other two losses this season came in a tournament held March 29 and 30 in Wheaton, Illinois.

—Brad Emerine

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