NORWALK, Ohio St. Ursula Academy will play for its seventh consecutive regional championship tomorrow, advancing through last night s Division I regional semifinal over fourth-ranked Elyria at Norwalk High School.
The second-ranked Arrows (23-3), who have collected 1 Ohio championship, 2 runner-up finishes, and 3 other semifinal appearances since 2000, took one game to warm up before toppling the Pioneers 25-27, 25-18, 25-14, 25-19.
St. Ursula will face unranked Perrysburg (20-6) in tomorrow s 1 p.m. final here.
The Yellow Jackets have been the region s surprise team, shaking off a 5-5 start to their season to win 15 of their last 16 matches, including 10 straight.
No. 10 in that run was a thriller in last night s second semifinal, which saw the Jackets outlast 10th-ranked Rocky River Magnificat 25-22, 17-25, 25-21, 27-29, 15-13.
They just wanted it, Perrysburg coach Jeff Beck said. These seniors don t want the season to end. It s amazing. Nobody expected us [to get this far].
I don t know if this team overlooked us, or what. We were a huge underdog, and we showed we definitely deserved to be in the top eight.
Perrysburg lost to SUA in its last regional semifinal appearance in 2003.
The Arrows were tied three times late before Elyria closed out its only game win on a Charde Phillips kill and an attack from SUA s Ashley Heyman, which sailed long.
The girls were playing sideout ball, and they were a little tight, which was surprising to me, SUA coach John Buck said. But that was a bit of a wake-up call when they lost that first game and then they picked up their game, started blocking a little better and were executing the offense better.
Kristen Sheely started getting some blocks on their outside hitters and at least slowed [Elyria] down a little. That was kind of our sparkplug right there.
SUA never trailed in Game 2, bolting to a quick 8-3 lead and pushing it to 21-12 before cruising to even the match.
Our defense was really strong and, if we can put up the block in the right spot we can make them play around us, Sheely said. I think we were kind of sleeping still in that first game. Then we picked it up. We knew what we had to do after that.
In the third game, the Arrows broke from a 10-9 edge into a commanding 22-12 lead, a surge highlighted by five straight service points from Molly McCabe, who mixed in three straight aces.
The clinching game stayed fairly even to its midway point as Elyria gained its final tie at 14-14 on a Phillips kill.
But SUA once again pulled away with the steady mix of blocking and solid back-row passing to advance. The match closed on Alliya Drzewiecki s 20th kill of the night.
Heyman added 19 kills, Kelly Thomas 8, and Hailey Marvin and Hannah Boggus 6 apiece for SUA
After splitting the first two games, Perrysburg caught fire behind the attacks of Chelsea Campbell (22 kills in match) and Melissa Szkutnik (17 kills) to pull ahead in Game 3.
The Jackets rode five straight service points from Jordan Hamons to pull from a 19-19 tie to the brink of the win. Although the Blue Streaks rallied for back-to-back points, Szkutnik sealed that game with her 11th kill.
Perrysburg was on the brink of clinching the match late in Game 4, ahead 24-22 after an attack from Magnificat s Clare Keeney (15 kills) sailed long.
But the Streaks regrouped to score three straight points, then outlasted Perrysburg for the 29-27 win.
We just told em, Forget about it, now! Beck said of his bench talk after Game 5. We said, Nothing s wrong. It s a quick game to 15. We practice these situations all the time, and they just did it. The seniors blocked it out and refused to let it affect them. We really refuse to die until that whistle.
The fifth game was Perrysburg s first in a match all season, but they were up to the extra work.