McComb’s first loss of year ends state run


DAYTON — All-Ohio hitter Gina Kramer pounded four kills during a pivotal stretch in the fourth set, and Marion Local rallied to beat McComb 25-14, 25-16, 21-25, 25-18 in the Division IV state volleyball semifinals at Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center on the Wright State University campus.

Marion Local (27-1), ranked No. 1 in the final OHSVCA polls, will go after its second straight Division IV state title and fifth in seven years against Newark Catholic (23-5) in Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game.

Kramer was 46 for 55 spiking with 17 kills, Clara Wuebker 34 for 44 spiking with 15 kills, and Brooke Winner 29 for 38 spiking with nine kills. Megan Wendel, Marion Local’s senior libero, had 48 digs. Allie Wendel led the Flyer with 31 assists.

Haley Huffman was 21 for 24 spiking with four kills and four blocks. Emily Clymer was 20 for 25 spiking with two kills and six digs. Maddy Roth led the Panthers with 19 digs, and Brenna Dee had 10 digs and a team-high 28 assists.

“One of our goals was to make it to state,” Roth said. “We never gave up on that goal, and we never gave up on each other. I consider that a successful season.”

McComb was making its first trip to to the state tournament. The Panthers, who were ranked No. 2 in the state entering the match, struggled through both the first and second sets.

“Those first two games we were like deer in the headlights,” McComb coach Dave Reinhart said after the Panthers’ (27-1) only loss in the best volleyball season in school history. “I was proud of them those last two games. That was McComb volleyball.”

Added Marion Local coach Amy Steininger: “McComb looked a little nervous those first two sets, and we tried to take advantage of that. We wanted to come out aggressive, and they seemed to have trouble getting into their system.

“But they’re big — 6-foot-2, 6-2, 6-4 — and we’ve not seen that kind of size all year. Those last two sets were battles. We said they are not going to make those errors all night, so we had continue to play at a high level. We told the girls they were undefeated for a reason.”

McComb graduates four senior veterans from a program that has gone 95-9 during their careers. But 11 of the 15 players on this year’s team were freshmen (seven) and sophomores (four), and several of them contributed in a big way on Thursday.

Jenna Huffman was 64 for 76 spiking and led the team with 18 kills. She also had 11 digs.

Molly Leppelmeier was 16 for 22 spiking with four kills and four blocks, Makenna Babb was 24 for 31 spiking with four kills and 18 digs. Loryn Huffman, another freshman, had 15 digs while sophomore Samantha Thepsourinthope had four.

“I told the girls at our first practice my No. 1 goal was to get here,” Reinhart said. “My No. 2 goal was to win it. We’re not going to win it, but hopefully this experience will better prepare our underclassmen for next year.”

Added Marion Local’s Dee: “We scrimmaged our JV in practice and they always gave us a battle. We know they’ll come back as strong as we were this year.”