For those on the court or in attendance at the Nutter Center in Dayton one year ago today, the thrilling two-hour, three-minute Division I state volleyball semifinal between eventual champion St. Ursula Academy and Cincinnati Seton will likely never be forgotten.
In particular, the almost surreal finish to Game 3.
One year later, to the day, it is top-ranked St. Ursula (28-0) vs. fourth-ranked Seton (23-5) once again, this time with the state championship and SUA's 57-match winning streak on the line.
They meet for the championship today at 11 a.m. at the Nutter Center.
Last year, trailing 2-0 in games and 23-19 in that third game, the top-ranked Arrows' 27-0 record was in serious jeopardy. But - with players like seniors Alison Mugler, Hailey Wiemer, Jess Dominiak, Brittany Fox and Laura Fender, junior twins Allison and Emily Florian and classmates Tighe Westrick and Katelyn Schissler, along with sophomore Ashley Heyman refusing to wilt under pressure - the Arrows outlasted the Saints by an incredible 39-37 count.
Seton fought off 11 potential game-points and the Arrows two before finally winning on one of Mugler's match-high 24 kills.
The equivalent of nearly another full game - a 20-14 closing run by SUA - was played after the Arrows faced their 23-19 deficit.
With their confidence bolstered by survival, the Arrows fended off another 23-19 deficit to win Game 4, then cruised to a 15-7 win in the deciding Game 5 against a, by then, demoralized Seton squad.
The next day, St. Ursula clipped Cincinnati Mother of Mercy in three games to win Toledo's first state volleyball title in what was the Arrows' fifth straight trip to the final four.
"It's pretty special," SUA coach John Buck said Thursday of getting to a third D-I final in six seasons.
"I think it's a situation where our kids have an attitude and a desire to win.
"I don't feel there's any pressure on us because we've been here. I think we'll be relaxed and it's going to be two very good teams. I think the best two teams left in the state are playing."
The five then-underclassmen Arrows who played in the 2004 semifinal thriller return, as do four Seton players - Emily Sullivan, Megan Griffin, Gina Coffaro and Maggie Bonomini.
SUA upped its winning streak to 57 with a 25-19, 25-22, 28-26 semifinal win over Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame at the Nutter Center on Thursday night. Seton earned a spot in the finals by pounding Wooster 25-11, 25-19, 25-22.
The SUA players and coach Buck admitted after the semifinal win over MND that the Seton match popped into their minds during Game 3 Thursday - with a 15-7 lead and a 2-0 lead in games. That's when the Cougars rallied to take a lead and hold a 25-24, game-point edge on the Arrows.
"You never know what's going to happen, so you definitely think about what's happened in the previous years," Allison Florian said. "But this is the time of the year to play your best game, so you've got to be ready each game, each point."
"That definitely entered our minds," sister Emily added, "but we said to each other, 'This was not going to happen to us like it did to Seton.' We pulled together. We've been behind before this season, so that experience helped."27.17785 -80.2264