ONTARIO, Ohio — Central Catholic did plenty in a short amount of time during a Division II volleyball regional semifinal with Celina on Thursday night at Ontario High School.
Central’s Kristin Murrell tallied 16 kills and Maty Lehman recorded 41 assists to lead the Irish to a decisive 25-16, 25-16, 25-20 victory over the Bulldogs.
The match lasted barely an hour, or about half the time it took for the Irish to drive to the regional site.
“We’ve been working hard in all of our practices to prepare for this game. It was a battle,” Lehman said, even though the unranked Irish (17-9) made it look relatively easy disposing of the Bulldogs (17-10).
The Irish will face No. 1-ranked Padua-Franciscan (23-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday in a regional final at Ontario.
Padua-Franciscan topped No. 3 Madison (24-3) in three sets in the other regional semifinal.
This will be the Irish’s first trip to a regional final since 2007 when they went on to win the state championship.
“They’re completely different teams,” said Central coach Jenn Bronikowski, who was an Irish assistant in 2007, in comparing this year's group to the state-title team. “The skill sets are completely different. Neither one, better or worse, but they’re completely different.”
Nevertheless, the Central team that took the floor against Celina played like a team that is peaking at the right time and is determined to be a tough out the rest of the way.
It’s also a balanced bunch that doesn’t necessarily rely on one player to get the job done.
Megan Koralewski tallied 10 kills while Molly Hartlage added nine and Sierra Sedlak seven.
Olivia Morrison did her part by recording 24 digs against a Celina team that fell behind early in the first game and never semed to recover.
“My kids did a great job of executing our game plan today and that really helped us to be pretty efficient,” Bronikowski said.
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Celina senior Michaela Wenning credited the Irish with playing an all-around solid match.
“They were definitely picking up a lot more balls than we thought they would,” Wenning said. “They were all over the place scrambling to get every ball. Then they turned those balls into hits and it was hard seeing where they wanted to go as a blocker.
“Their serves were on point, and they were serving everywhere.”
Central jumped out to leads in every game, and Celina never gained momentum.
“Seeing our season starting to come to an end, that was hard,” Wenning said.
“We just had to pull ourselves up after that, but we had trouble doing that.”
Despite the two-hour drive the Irish played with plenty of energy and never let up.
“It doesn’t matter where we play we’ll always be ready to come out and play hard and win,” Lehman said.