When Miami East coach John Cash first started talking about a state tournament run, buy-in was hard to come by.
After all, it was a volleyball program that earned only 12 wins in 10 years, not long before Cash took the helm.
“We called him crazy,” said Abby Cash, a senior setter and right-side hitter and Cash’s daughter.
She wasn’t alone.
“The athletic director did, the principal did, the superintendent did,” coach Cash said, smiling. “But you’ve got to believe.”
Cash has made believers out of his players as well as players and coaches from across the state as Miami East earned its second consecutive Division III state championship with a straight-set win, 28-26, 25-15, 25-17, over Columbus Bishop Ready at the Nutter Center on Saturday.
“I don’t think we always believed, but he always believed in us,” Vikings middle hitter Leah Dunivan said.
The Vikings and Silver Knights kept it close throughout the opening set, which was marked by 13 ties and four lead changes. A pair of late kills by Abby Cash, who led the Vikings with 10 on the night, gave Miami East a first-set win and the momentum.
But after taking a two-set lead, the Vikings fell behind early in the third set as the Knights quickly went up 6-1. Cash called a timeout and encouraged his players to take a deep breath, not once but twice.
“We all did it together,” he said. “I just wanted to settle the kids down. After that it was just a matter of coming out and executing.”
That 1-6 deficit rapidly evaporated as the Vikings soon led 13-9. Now it was the Knights turn to burn a timeout, but Ready was never able to regain the lead.
While winning back-to-back state titles was thrilling, it was also bittersweet for Cash as he graduates his first senior class. Allie Millhouse, Dunivan and Abby were freshmen when Cash took over the program.
“We are losing three great kids who got this whole thing started,” he said. “I don’t think people understand how valuable those kids are, not because of their stats but because of their leadership, which is key to everything we’ve developed.”
- Beaumont takes DII title: The Blue Streaks, making their second state appearance, made history Saturday. Beaumont clinched its first state volleyball title with a 25-18, 18-25, 25-15, 16-25, 15-8 win over Norwalk in the Division II finals at the Wright State University Nutter Center.
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