The Olentangy Orange girls volleyball team has reached a Division I regional final for the second consecutive year after defeating Olentangy Liberty 25-15, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22 in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Worthington Kilbourne.

The Pioneers improved to 22-4 and will play DeSales for the regional championship Nov. 2 at Kilbourne.

Orange won the first two games before Liberty rallied to win the third. However, the Pioneers regrouped to edge the Patriots in the fourth game.

“We knew that it’s tough to beat a team three times and Liberty has one of the best players in the state in Claranne Fechter and we knew they had a good senior class,” said Orange coach Katie Duy, whose team had swept Liberty in OCC-Buckeye Division play, winning 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-13 on Sept. 3 and 25-18, 25-18, 25-16 on Sept. 19. “We knew we had to adjust a couple things (after the third game) and told (our players) to take a deep breath and get back to playing their style of volleyball.”

London Davis led the Pioneers with 21 kills, while Hanna Borer had 50 assists, Addie Evans had 28 digs and Nina Marin had three aces.

Fechter had 22 kills and 29 digs and Logan Flaugh had 38 assists for the Patriots, who finished 18-8.

Liberty coach Jen Chapman said her team tried to get Orange away from running its attack.

“We passed very well to give our offense some options and we started touching the ball on the block,” Chapman said. “We served aggressively and got them out of system, and we knew that’s what we had to do against them. We knew we weren’t going to outhit them at the net, but we knew we could do other things to get them out of what they wanted to do.”

DeSales 3, Watterson 1

If there was any danger in playing its biggest rival for the third time in less than two months with the season on the line, the Stallions ignored it by relying on basics.

Avery Boyd’s 14 kills, Emma Brown’s 13 kills and 19 digs and 11 kills from Saje Washington powered DeSales to a 25-15, 17-25, 25-12, 25-14 win over the Eagles in a Division I regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Kilbourne.

Boyd had 20 swings without an error as DeSales improved to 24-2 and advanced to play Orange in the regional final Nov. 2 at Kilbourne.

“My game plan was just to get over the net and press on them. I got up on my blocks and I timed my blocks well,” Boyd said. “Our team just went by the three Cs — control, collective (effort) and confidence. We showed that on the court.

“The first time we played them (a 25-15, 24-26, 25-15, 25-16 win on Sept. 3), we were very controlled. The second time (a 25-20, 25-16, 25-12 win on Sept. 12), we were all over the place. Tonight, we really controlled ourselves.”

Bridget Javitch added 17 digs for DeSales, which never trailed in the third game and was behind only briefly in the fourth.

“We always just talk about serving and passing. That’s where all of volleyball comes from,” Stallions coach Brenden Pence said. “They put a lot of pressure on us in the second (game) with their serve and we didn’t respond very well. We just went back to basics and continued to be the first contact team and be the better serving team and better passing team.”

Watterson finished 21-6.

“Our ball control in the first and third (games) was really rough and because of that, we couldn’t get into the rhythm that we wanted to,” Eagles coach Stephanie Grieshop said. “In the second, our passes were there, our timing was right and our rhythm was good. I had DeSales for one error in the fourth (game). When a team plays that clean, they deserve to win.”

DeSales, which is seeking its first state tournament appearance since 2014 and eighth in program history, beat Orange 25-19, 25-18, 25-22 on Oct. 5.

—Dave Purpura

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