VANDALIA — Once Bellbrook got comfortable in the match, they competed evenly against one of the state’s best.
They needed a little too long to get to that point though as Cincinnati Ursuline, ranked No. 1 in the final OHSVCA state poll of the regular season, flexed is strength in a three set 25-13, 25-14, 25-22, win in the Division I district final match on Saturday at Butler High School.
“We just need to get used to them,” head coach Lynzee Allen said. “You enter the game and know they’re that good and it’ll take a game to adjust [to their skill.]”
Alanna Vavao unofficially had 10 kills to lead the Golden Eagles attack. Sophie Davis made seven kills to go with three digs and three blocks, McKenna Melton had five kills, three digs and two blocks, and Sam Pavlak added five kills and five blocks.
The Golden Eagles looked overwhelmed out of the gate in losing the first seven points of the match. They fought back to a 12-8 deficit before Ursuline won seven or the next nine points to pull away.
Bellbrook in set two was not able to win a point on its first nine service attempts as the Ursuline attack remaining silky smooth in its efficiency of getting the ball hit quickly.
It was finally in the third set when Bellbrook got in some smiles on the court. Sam Pavlak won three straight service points early and her defense returned the favor from set two by forcing four straight side outs until Ursuline called timeout trailing 10-4. The tide immediately turned thought as Bellbrook lost the next eight points for Ursuline to retake control.
The Golden Eagles didn’t go away and remained either two or three points down during the final stretch, but couldn’t put a run of more than two points together to help close the gap.
“Finally we settled in game three which was a little too late,” Allen said. “But they played really hard and I’m proud of them.”
Bellbrook had seven seniors of the 12 players on this year’s team. They dominated the Southwestern Buckeye League for the third straight season as its outright champion and had three named as first-team players in the league with Melton winning player of the year.
Similarly to the match on Saturday, the entire roster contributed through the season to create a balanced team was difficult to handle. Melton fired off kills along with Vavao, Pavlak and Davis, while Grace Krane had the majority of assists for them while also digging out balls with Sydney Burchfield, and Pavlak could get up along with Corinne Stamm to block them from coming over the net.
You’d expect it from a group that has played together since an early age.
“They’re so talented,” Allen said. “They’ve been giving it their all in our program since probably the third grade. We’ve watched them grow starting in kids camps and through the program. I always tell seniors to leave it better than they found it and they did. Tenfold they did.”
The next group will have its hands full to try and do the same.