Tipp volleyball falls in Division II state semifinals

Tippcanoe lost to Gilmour Academy on Friday in the Division II volleyball state semifnals at Butler High School. OHSAA photo
Tippcanoe lost to Gilmour Academy on Friday in the Division II volleyball state semifnals at Butler High School. OHSAA photo

VANDALIA – There was no lack of enthusiasm or talent on the Tippecanoe side of the court, but the experience advantage belonged to Gilmour Academy.

The top-ranked Lancers were making their 10th state semifinal appearance since 2007 while the Red Devils were making their first state trip since 2007. Gilmour won the D-III state title in 2015 and has been state runner-up five times since 2008.

“When you’re not used to being in the moment, sometimes the moment gets you,” Tippecanoe head coach Howard Garcia said. “And I have to give Gilmour credit, they’re very disciplined, very savvy and very well-coached.”

The tournament-tested Lancers prevailed Friday, 20-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-15, in the D-II state volleyball semifinals at Vandalia Butler High School. The win was a year in the making after the Lancers were bumped out of the 2019 state tournament by eventual state champion Fenwick.

“The feeling we had last year is one we never want to feel again,” Gilmour middle hitter Kathryn Randorf said.

While the Lancers were motivated, the Red Devils were ready to play from the opening serve. It was a back-and-forth affair early with 13 tie scores in the opening set before the Red Devils gave themselves a little breathing room. A block by outside hitter Corinn Siefring helped Tipp take a 22-19 lead and forced the Lancers to burn their second timeout. Gilmour could never regain the lead as the Red Devils went up 1-0.

The second set was more of the same early until Gilmour rattled off five straight points, translating a 7-9 deficit into a 12-9 lead. The Red Devils evened the contest late at 18-18 but the Lancers took advantage of a string of Tipp errors late to take a 24-18 lead. An ace by Randorf helped the Lancers even the match at 1-1.

The Lancers were unable to maintain the momentum early in a tight third set but came up big late. The experienced Gilmour squad mounted a 6-1 run to take the third set, 25-23.

“I think the third set was the turning point,” Garcia said. “We broke down a little bit and here we are.”

The Red Devils didn’t back down in a must-win fourth set building an early 6-4 lead. But Gilmour’s balanced offense proved to be more than Tipp could handle. Randorf led all players with 19 kills but Sabrina Gremm and Brinn MacLellan were close behind with 15 and 12, respectively.

“They did exactly what we thought they would do,” Garcia said of the Lancers.

Tippecanoe also had a trio of powerful hitters as Ashley Aselage, Rachel Wildermuth and Siefring tallied 12 kills apiece.

“As good as Gilmour is, they felt some pressure today,” Garcia said.

While the Red Devils experienced their first loss of the season, 27-1, it was a season worth celebrating.

“Not a lot of teams are able to say they were in the final four,” Garcia said.

Gilmour, 22-1, will face Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, 14-4, in the D-II final Sunday. The Lions, making their third state appearance, won the title in 2014 and 2015. Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin made quick work of Jonathan Alder in the semifinals, sweeping the Pioneers, 25-17, 25-12, 25-15.

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