KETTERING — Facing what has become a regular postseason rival over the past eight years, Miami East (24-3) took it to Anna early and didn’t let up, sweeping the Rockets 25-14, 25-15, 25-19 in the Division III regional semifinal Thursday night at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
Now the defending D-III state champion Vikings will face another familiar regional foe, Versailles, in the regional final on Saturday. Anna, which won the Shelby County Athletic League championship this season, finished the season with a 19-8 overall record.
Versailles was the last team to defeat the Vikings in the regional tournament, knocking them out in the semifinal round in 2013 and 2014.
In fact, the Vikings have played either Anna or Versailles in the regional tournament every year during their seven-year streak.
In 2011 and 2012 during its back-to-back state title years, East ran into Anna, defeating the Rockets in four in the semifinal in 2011 and sweeping them in the final in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, it was back-to-back semifinal losses to Versailles, in 2015 it was a semifinal victory over Anna and last year it was a four-set semifinal win over Versailles en route to a third state title during that stretch.
“I’m so excited to be playing Versailles,” senior Kyndall Hellyer said. “Before the game, we said ‘are we going to see anyone different?’ But as soon as we knew that we had Anna, and that Versailles was also in the mix, we took control of it.”
The last team to defeat Miami East in the postseason before the regional level? Anna in 2010’s sectional final.
The Vikings made sure from the start there was no repeat of that performance.
The Vikings and Rockets played side-out volleyball for most of the first set until East led 8-7. Hellyer served the Vikings out to a 13-7 lead, then a three-point service run by senior Anna Jacomet made the score 19-12. With East up 21-14, two kills and a block by Hellyer helped put the set away.
The second set was much the same, with a three-point service run by Kaitlyn Mack, including a pair of aces, staking East out to a 13-6 lead midway through. Anna couldn’t string together more than two straight points until the score was 23-12, but it was still too late.
In the third, Anna took its first lead of the entire match to start and built an 8-5 advantage — but a kill and then four straight aces by Parker, followed by a kill by Hellyer, gave the Vikings an 11-8 lead, and they didn’t look back from there.
Parker led the Vikings with 21 kills, 16 assists, five aces, four dig and three blocks and Hellyer had 15 kills, 16 assists, an ace, four digs and two blocks.
Ashley Landis led Anna with nine kills, while Macy Wiktorowski and Emma Meyer had six each. Lexi Wells had a team-high 23 assists, Carly Becker led the team with nine digs and Rachel Shoemaker had seven digs.
The Rockets will lose Shoemaker, Landis and three other seniors to graduation but look to return seven varsity players next year.
Versailles beats Johnstwon-Monroe
Versailles volleyball team advanced to the regional title match with a 25-20, 19-25, 25-21, 25-6 win over Johnstown-Monroe in Thursday’s first match.
The loss in the second set was the first for Versailles this tournament season, but coach Kenzie Bruggeman wasn’t too concerned.
“As long as they respond and learn from it I’m OK with that,” she said.
After three closes set, Versailles scored seven of the first eight points in the fourth set, including the first three, to build a big lead. This time Johnstown-Monroe didn’t recover, and Versailles went on to win 25-6 and claim the regional semifinal victory.
Josh Brown is the sports editor of the Troy Daily News. Brown can be reached at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.