This wasn’t supposed to be the Alter’s year.
“We kept hearing people say this would be an off year for us,” Alter senior setter Ben Conroy said. “I guess they were wrong.”
Despite losing nine seniors to graduation, the Knights – winners of four Division II state volleyball titles in the past five years – are heading back to Columbus. Alter beat top-seeded Fenwick, 25-23, 29-27, 25-16, in the Ohio High School Boys Volleyball Association West Region Tournament at Middletown High School on Saturday.
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school scoreboard
Despite years of D-II domination, the 19-7 Knights were definitely not the favorites. Fenwick swept Alter in both regular-season meetings 3-0. The Falcons had earned the top seed for the regional tournament while Carroll was No. 2. The third-seeded Knights, however, beat them both en route to a 10th regional championship title.
“Our energy was the difference today,” Alter coach Craig Erford said. “This week, we regrouped and really came together as a team.”
Veterans and varsity rookies, alike, came up big in the Knights win. Conroy tallied 15 assists while freshman James Darnieder posted 18 assists and led the team with three aces. First-year varsity players junior Aidan Tyra and sophomore Luke Wilson, both outside hitters, paced the Knights with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
“We found our confidence,” Conroy said. “We got back to where we knew we could be as a team.”
• Division I: Beavercreek fought off a late surge by Fairmont to earn a seventh trip to state in the past nine years. The Beavers topped the Firebirds, 25-10, 25-16, 25-21 in the Division I regional finals Saturday.
“We started taking it a little too easy in the third set and Fairmont is a good team, so you can’t do that,” Beavercreek coach Carol Bysak said. “But our setter, Jarrod Brown, does a great job commanding the floor.”
Beavercreek team captains — Brown, Alex Parson and Naumaan Hussain — have been a major factor for the 20-5 Beavers all season.
“The level of play they expect from their teammates is incredibly high,” Bysak said of her captains. “At practice, they don’t hesitate to call a player out when they need to and everyone has really bought in and raised the level of play.”
Lakota East rounded out the DI West Region state qualifiers. The Thunderhawks – led by West Region player of the year Ethan Hubbard – swept Northmont 3-0, 25-19, 25-19, 25-13, to earn their second state trip. Lakota East last qualified in 2014.
The OHSBVA State Tournament gets underway Saturday at Capital University.
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