St. Ursula made its eighth trip in the past 12 years to the state semifinals.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
In Michigan, perennial volleyball power Bedford (65-13-3) was once again within striking range of a state championship, reaching the Class A title match before falling to Macomb Dakota (59-5) by a 25-22, 25-21, 26-24 count in a tight battle in Battle Creek.
Veteran coach Jodi Manore’s Kicking Mules, with major contributions for players like Nicole Rightnowar, Kayla Gwozdz, Ellen Hays, MacKenzie Andrews, Taylor Foster, and Sophie Marciniak, defeated Dearborn and Gibraltar Carlson by 3-0 counts in the regionals, then topped Farmington Hills Mercy and Grand Haven 3-1 each in the state quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
Under Manore, the Mules won state titles in 1998, 2001, and 2005, and have now been state runners-up five times.
In Ohio, perennial Division state power St. Ursula was back at it again this season under veteran head coach John Buck, who guided the Arrows to their eight trip to the state semifinals since 2000.
The second-ranked Arrows (26-2) — led by seniors Katie McKernan and Maddie Burnham — marched to the semis before losing to eventual champion Cincinnati Ursuline 27-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-17. Sixth-ranked Ursuline also handed St. Ursula its only regular-season loss.
Other major contributors in the Arrows’ deep lineup included sophomores Maurissa Leonard and Lauran Graves, and juniors Lauren Daudelin and Madelyn McCabe.
St. Ursula won the Three Rivers Athletic Conference title, beating rival Notre Dame in the TRAC playoff final. The Arrows beat Notre Dame for a third time to win the district final, then beat seventh-ranked Findlay in the regional semifinals and North Royalton in the regional final.
Northern Buckeye Conference champion Eastwood (23-4), Ohio’s 12th-ranked Division II team, advanced to the regional semifinals before falling to top-ranked Parma Padua Franciscan.
In Division III, Northwest Ohio Athletic League champion Archbold (23-3) got to the regional semifinals before suffering a heart-breaking 22-25, 25-16, 25-13, 23-25, 18-16 loss to Coldwater.
Two area teams reached the Division IV regionals — one expected, the other a surprise.
The surprise was Toledo Area Athletic Conference runner-up Cardinal Stritch (18-9), which fell in the regional semis to sixth-ranked New Washington Buckeye Central.
McComb (22-4), which was ranked No. 17, also fell to Buckeye Central in the regional final.
Bowsher captured the City League championship, Springfield won the Northern Lakes League title, and Toledo Christian was the TAAC champion.