St. Ursula's Hannah Engler (11) defends against Findlay's Ciara Ralston on Thursday in Toledo. St. Ursula defeated Findlay in three game.
The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
What was expected to be a tight showdown between a pair of Three River Athletic Conference and statewide volleyball powers turned into a one-sided affair Thursday night at the St. Ursula gym.
The host Arrows (9-0, 3-0 TRAC) -- who have just two seniors and two other varsity returnees from their 2011 Division I state runner-up team -- looked more like the veteran squad in cruising to a three-set victory over Findlay, 25-18, 25-21, 25-18.
The visiting Trojans have 10 seniors on the roster, and the nine returnees in coach Bob Moran's rotation were part of Findlay's D-I state semifinal team of a year ago.
That expected advantage in experience never materialized in this match, as St. Ursula came out strong and kept the pedal to the metal on the attack throughout.
"You never know what's going to happen when kids come out and start playing," St. Ursula coach John Buck said of the briskly played victory. "Our kids really did a nice job of executing and took away some of Findlay's strengths.
PHOTO GALLERY: Findlay vs. St. Ursula
"We were ready and came out and played well. We blocked fairly well, and our servers probably out-served their passers, and kept them out of their system a little more than we were."
The Arrows' 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter Maddie Burnham delivered eight of her team-high 11 kills in the clinching third game as St. Ursula finished as they started. Junior Lauren Daudelin added six kills, and senior Katie McKernan had five for the Arrows.
"Findlay's a great team," Burnham said, "I'm shocked that we won as easily as we won, but I'm proud of the way our girls played.
"We're starting to come together as a team, and everyone's finding their position and their place and doing what they need to do."
On the defensive end, where St. Ursula was also solid, McKernan and sophomore Maurissa Leonard topped the stat sheet with eight digs apiece, and sophomore Ryann Cox contributed six digs.
"We were really pumped up for the game," McKernan said. "We wanted to come out strong. We knew that they had 10 returning seniors, and we only have two.
"So, we knew it was going to be a tough match, and we really pulled together as a team. Altogether, I think our energy just picked up throughout the game. When they were backing down we went full force and went ahead and took it."
Findlay's first loss of the season dropped the Trojans to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the TRAC.
"We could've played better," Moran said. "If we would have cut down on some of our mistakes and errors, it's a better game. But that was a good eye-opener for us.
"It was our passing. We couldn't get into our offense overall. We try to run a quicker offense, but if we can't get the passes there it [doesn't work]. Our hitters were hitting it into the net or hitting long."
Findlay was within 15-14 in Game 2 before St. Ursula bought a little breathing room on the serve of sophomore Megan Burns. The Arrows upped their lead to as many as six points before finally closing that game out on an attack error by the Trojans.
St. Ursula carried its momentum into Game 3, jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead on the serve of McKernan, who mixed in an ace along with three kills from Burnham in that span.
"One of our game plans was to be aggressive and attack all night," Buck said. "That was one of the things we tried to establish, and I thought they did a pretty good job of that."
After Findlay settled down and pulled within 9-7 on kills from seniors Kayce Krucki and Emma Schleucher, senior Emily Lauth's serve into the net broke that run, and the Arrows reeled off five straight points to take control.
Two of those points came on well-placed jump serves from Arrows junior Madelyn McCabe, and St. Ursula led 14-7. After back-to-back Trojan attack errors pushed the Arrows' lead to 18-10, Findlay made one more mini-run to get within 22-18, but Burnham pounded two more attacks down, and sophomore Morgan Finn's tap found an open space on the floor to close the match.
"We had great passing and great sets, so I just did what I had to do," Burnham said of her attacks in the third game.