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Published: 11/13/2010

St. Ursula wins state championship

Maggie Burnham, left, and Veronica Zimmerman get fired up after scoring a point on their way to defeating Dublin Coffman at Wright State University. Maggie Burnham, left, and Veronica Zimmerman get fired up after scoring a point on their way to defeating Dublin Coffman at Wright State University.
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Veronica Zimmerman and her teammates celebrate St. Ursula's victory over Dublin Coffman to claim the Division I state volleyball championship. Veronica Zimmerman and her teammates celebrate St. Ursula's victory over Dublin Coffman to claim the Division I state volleyball championship.
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St. Ursula and coach John Buck pose with the Division I volleyball state championship trophy after their victory in the final over Dublin Coffman. The Arrows also won a state title in 2004.
St. Ursula and coach John Buck pose with the Division I volleyball state championship trophy after their victory in the final over Dublin Coffman. The Arrows also won a state title in 2004.
SKIP PETERSON Enlarge

DAYTON — The St. Ursula Arrows deployed every powerful weapon in their quiver to earn the label as the best volleyball team in the state of Ohio.

St. Ursula fell behind Dublin Coffman 1-0 in a Division I state championship match Saturday at Wright State University's Nutter Center, but the Arrows used a multi-pronged attack to sweep the next three sets and capture the 2010 state title.

St. Ursula won the second state championship in school history with a 15-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-18 win over the Shamrocks.

The Arrows (28-1), who also won a title in 2004, rallied behind five tall and powerful players. Erin Williams, Cassidy Croci, Maggie Burnham, and Maddie Burnham each had at least 10 kills.

“The trademark of this team is we never know who will be the kill leader for a match,” coach John Buck said. “These stats prove that out tonight. We really had a balanced attack. We really spread it out.”

Williams finished with a team-high 15 kills, followed by Maggie Burnham (12). Croci and Maddie Burnham each finished with 10.

“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” senior Maggie Burnham said. “We've waited so long for this state championship and worked so hard for it.”

Setter Veronica Zimmerman distributed the ball effectively and finished with 37 assists.

“You have to credit Veronica for spreading it around,” Buck said. “She put it on a tee for the kids to be able to swing away at it.”

After losing the first game by 10 points, the Arrows picked up the pace of their attack. Buck said he adjusted his lineup after the first game for better matchups.

“I changed rotations, and that benefited us,” he said. “It was fun watching the kids regain their composure and play to their abilities.”

Brimming with confidence and momentum built from winning two straight games, the Arrows jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the decisive fourth game on back-to-back aces by Zimmerman, who has committed to Memphis University. She finished with six aces.

“This makes up for all those early curfews on Friday nights,” Zimmerman said. “It pays off with this state championship. This is so great. I'm just so happy.”

Williams had two terrific kills to help St. Ursula take an 18-10 lead. Williams then ended the match with back-to-back kills.

“We've all worked so hard and pushed each other,” Williams said. “Everyone worked together for this one goal. Words can't describe how great this feels.”

The Arrows entered the contest ranked second in the final state poll and 22nd nationally, while Dublin Coffman (27-2) was third and 24th.

The Shamrocks, who also were state runners-up last year, were making their second overall appearance in the state final four. The Arrows have made seven trips this decade.

“Every one of their players was getting kills,” DC coach Mary Anne Souder said. “There wasn't one person we could focus in on. They were bigger and were over top of our block. There's not a lot we could do. They are an excellent team, and they have a great setter. They are a huge hitting team.”

Also at stake was a steak dinner. Buck asked his team in the postgame press conference, “Where you going tonight girls?”

And the trio players responded: “Steak dinner!”

“I told them if they won a state championship, I'd take them out for a steak dinner,” Buck said. “So we'll find a steakhouse on the way home.”

The Shamrocks took an 11-6 lead to open the first game and expanded that to a 20-13 edge with good digging, blocking, and killing. At that point, DC led 17-9 in kills, and St. Ursula could not recover.

In a tight second game that was tied at 12, Buck called a timeout with his team down 14-12. Zimmerman had three straight aces to give her team a 21-15 lead. DC rallied to pull within 23-22. But Maggie Burnham, who will play at Northwestern, made one leaping kill for another point and ended it with a powerful spike for a 25-23 win.

Neither team could pull away in the third game. St. Ursula managed to grab a 20-15 lead, and the Shamrocks bounced back to tie it at 24. But Williams gave the Arrows a 25-24 lead and ended the match with another kill.

In 2004, St. Ursula compiled a 29-0 record en route to a state title. The Arrows also finished runner-up in 2000 and 2005 — the last year that they had earned a state berth.

St. Ursula's lone loss came against top-ranked Cincinnati Ursuline, who fell to Dublin Coffman in a two-hour semifinal on Friday.

“We might have run out of steam emotionally,” DC senior McKenzie Bailey said.

Buck, whose team finished with 19 straight wins, said having fresher legs helped.

“I'm so proud of what we accomplished,” he said. “We couldn't ask for anymore. It's been a fun group to coach. It will be sad to see the seniors leave, but they are leaving a good legacy to follow.”

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6354.



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