During a preseason volleyball scrimmage in August at Centerville that featured 16 teams from around Ohio, an opponent of Fenwick’s pointed out that unlike most volleyball teams who celebrate each point like a match winner, the Falcons simply gave the ball back to their server and got ready for the next volley.
Why celebrate winning a preseason point when the goal is winning the whole thing?
Fenwick cut loose Saturday.
Rallying from a 1-0 set deficit and down in both the second and third sets, the Falcons clawed back to claim the program’s second state title with a 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-22 win over Sparta Highland in the Division II OHSAA state final at Wright State’s Nutter Center.
Fenwick, making its second straight trip to state and sixth overall, finishes 28-1.
Highland, making its first state appearance, finishes 25-5.
“Neither team lost that game…we went out and won it,” Fenwick head coach Tyler Conley said. “It was back and forth and punch for punch. It doesn’t feel real yet.”
“Some of us have played together since we were 11 and when we all found out we were going to go Fenwick we said ‘senior year’ — we’re going to win a state title senior year,” Fenwick senior Emma Schaefer said. “For that to actually happen is insane.”
Winning its 24th straight match, Fenwick, which finished No. 1 in the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association state poll, found itself facing rare deficits in the second and third sets. Twice down three points in the second and twice down four points in the third – including 22-18 – the Falcons rallied each time.
“It’s awesome that it comes down to getting sideouts,” Conley said. “That’s what we live and die on — our serve-receive.”
Said senior setter Grace Maziar: “In serve-receive we just tell ourselves that we are going to get the next point. Once we do that, we make our run, gain back momentum and go from there.”
Fenwick opened up an 18-10 lead in the fourth set on its way to the title.
“Never a doubt,” Conley joked afterwards. “Never a doubt.”
Needing 32 assists to become the first player in state history to surpass 4,000, Maziar collected 35.
“I don’t know that that record is ever going to be broken,” Conley said. “In big moments we trust her. She’s not 5-foot-3 in her heart.”
Highland, which beat defending state champion Holy Name in a five-set semifinal on Thursday, was led by 6-foot-3 Illinois recruit and three-time first team All-Ohioan Raina Terry who finished with a game-high 20 kills.
Fenwick’s Elizabeth Hoerlain and Julia Gardon led the Falcons with 13 and 11 kills, respectively.
“If we can just got out and do us, it doesn’t matter who is across the net from us, because we are going to be the better team and that’s what happened tonight,” Conley said. “(Terry) may or may not be the best player in the state, but we’re the best team.”
Said Highland head coach Rob Terrill: “They are the No. 1 team in the state, they are ranked No. 1 by MaxPreps and they just won the state title. A lot of people have had problems with Fenwick. We’re not alone.”
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