Jerome, Liberty and DeSales advance to state tournament


The difference between a historic win for his program and a third defeat in six weeks against one of his biggest rivals was small for Dublin Jerome boys’ volleyball coach Phil Cagnoli.

All that mattered to the Celtics after a 25-19, 25-23, 19-25, 13-25, 19-17 victory over Thomas Worthington in a Division I East Region Final on May 28 at Westerville Central was that ‘they’ll play another day, and their next game will be the first of the schedule in a state tournament.

“We tried to get over this hurdle and this one was exciting. Good for the sport, bad for my heart,” Cagnoli said. “We train for times like this. We want to be the aggressive team. We actively want to go out and try to win games rather than trying not to lose. It has served us well. …

“We knew we had that in us. We are more confident and have more experience than when we faced them earlier. These guys played like veterans.

Jerome improved to 17-9 and will face Cincinnati Elder in a state quarterfinal on June 4 at Pickerington Central.

The sixth-seeded Celtics, playing in their fifth straight regional final, rarely led the second-seeded Cardinals in games three and four. The fifth featured 14 draws before Jérôme scored the final two points.

“We just had to stay calm. We were able. We kept trusting each other,” said outside hitter Connor Kemp, part of a big junior class for Jerome that also includes hitters Aidan Eberheart, Henry Guerrera and Kai Van Bourgondien and libero Cam Eckelberry. “We played a lot better today. We had great confidence in each other in this last game. All parts match. As a team, we thrived.

Thomas Worthington's Miles Howland attempts to kick the ball past Dublin Jerome's Alex Loeffler and Aidan Eberhardt during the regional final May 28 at Westerville Central.

Thomas won both regular season meetings in the OCC-Cardinal division: 25-20, 15-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-3 on April 14 and 25-20, 26-24, 26-24 May 5.

The Cardinals, seeking their first regional championship since 1995 and their first state title since 1990, finished 20-7. They were led throughout the season by setter Joe Kolwicz and center hitter Bo O’Leary.

“We struggled to block outsides in the first two (games) but we were much better after that, then the fifth was on serve,” Thomas coach Brian Lawless said. “We put three consecutive serves into the net to give them three consecutive match points and you can’t win when you score them points like that.”

—Dave Purpura

Olentangy Liberty's Ryan Severson, Jack Sullenberger and Connor Severson celebrate after the Patriots defeated Mount Vernon 25-27, 25-20, 25-8, 25-20 in a Division I East Region final on May 28 in Westerville Central.

Olentangy Freedom 3, Mount Vernon 1

It took Liberty 16 seasons to reach the state tournament for the first time. The Patriots didn’t have to wait that long for their second trip after a 25-27, 25-20, 25-8, 25-20 win over Mount Vernon in an East Area Division I Final. Is for a second consecutive season.

“I knew coming in we had a lot of potential,” Liberty senior Noah Koknat said. “We really wanted to win. But we still have a (long way) to go with the States next weekend. »

Liberty, which improved to 22-3, takes on Cincinnati Moeller in a June 4 state quarterfinal at Pickerington Central.

Size was a strength for top-seeded Liberty, who used 25 blocks to get rid of the Yellow Jackets. Jake Koch and Colby Whiteside had six blocks each and David Jenkins added five.

“After (the first set), I think we did a great job of limiting their runs,” Liberty coach David Hale said. “We have a big advantage over them. (Parker Gantt from Mount Vernon) could jump over most people…but we managed to get some really good blocks on him and it was huge. I think (Koch, Whiteside and Jenkins) were really instrumental in controlling the net.

Typical of their season, the Patriots had a balanced effort. Koknat had 15 kills, Jenkins had 12 digs, Connor Severson had 25 assists, 10 digs and three aces, Jack Sullenberger had 18 digs and three aces, and Wes Davis had 13 assists.

“The most important thing is that everyone came together and we did this as a team,” Koknat said. “There were no individual players. After that, it became hype for each other.

Third-seeded Mount Vernon enjoyed a rebound year, finishing 17-5 after 1-20 last season. The Yellow Jackets have eight freshmen and sophomores and only two seniors on their roster.

One of those sophomores, Gantt, had 19 kills and 15 digs. Cooper Carpenter had 28 assists, Dash Lepley had 20 digs and Weston Porter added nine kills and 12 digs.

“There are still young people out there,” Mount Vernon coach Chad Sivewright said. “Being on a stage like that, it could have been difficult for them to handle it in that second set. Being here now – we didn’t have that experience last year – playing in front of so many people, it was quite important for them. It’s a good experience because next year they will know how it feels.

—Michael Rich

DeSales' Michael Hunsaker and the rest of the Stallions celebrate with fans after defeating St. Charles 25-15, 25-20, 21-25, 25-15 in a Division II Eastern Region final on May 28 in Westerville Central.

DeSales 3, Saint-Charles 1

Health made a difference for the top-ranked Stallions, who weren’t at full strength in two regular-season losses to the second-seeded Cardinals but largely controlled their region’s Division II final East throughout, winning 25-15, 25-20, 21 -25, 25-15.

Camren White had 17 kills, Cameron Hoying had 29 assists and four kills and Luke Gabrielli had six assists for DeSales, who won their first regional championship since 2016.

“Our top line is as good or better than any team in the state in my opinion. Maintaining that and getting in there is the key,” Stallions coach Andy Feltz said. “We can play badly or we can play well. We trailed (18-13) in Game 2 here and went 11-2. It’s about capturing that moment when we peak. …

“I remembered our previous state teams, thinking how fun it will be to have them go through this. It is something that will be remembered forever.

DeSales improved to 20-4 and will face Hamilton Badin in a state semifinal on June 4 at Pickerington Central.

The Stallions lost to St. Charles 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 25-16 on April 8 and 25-20, 25-18, 25-22 13 days later. Hoying, the team’s main setter, was injured in the first game and cleared to play two days before the second.

“Being healthy is key, but I think the scale of the game really inspired us,” Hoying said. “We limited our mistakes and our serve was really big.”

St. Charles, seeking its first regional championship since 2018, finished 19-8.

“They served very well and blocked very well. They played a great game,” Cardinals coach Ned Gruber said. “We struggled to be in the system on service receptions…and they put a lot of pressure on us.”

—Dave Purpura

[email protected]



About Author

Comments are closed.