COVINGTON — You can’t blame Lehman Catholic volleyball coach Greg Snipes if he would like to bottle the way the Cavaliers play big points and have them play the entire match that way.
In a 25-19, 25-22, 25-19 win over No. 8 seed Yellow Springs in a Division IV sectional final on Wednesday, the Cavaliers found themselves pushed by the Bulldogs in every set before coming away with the win.
Lehman (17-8) will play Fort Loramie on Saturday in a district championship match in Troy. The Redskins (13-12) beat Franklin-Monroe 3-0 in Wednesday’s third sectional final.
“I told the girls I wish they would play at the beginning of the sets the way they play at the end of them.” Snipes said. “We really played well at the end of all three sets.”
Lehman had taken a 16-11 lead in the opening set after a kill by Olivia Lucia, but Yellow Springs closed the gap to 18-17 leading to a Lehman timeout. An attack by Malorie Hussey and ace by Pyper Sharkins helped Lehman take a 22-18 lead.
At 23-19, Lauren McFarland gave the Cavaliers a spark. On Abby Schutt’s serve, she had both the dig and the kill and Reese Geise finished off the set with a kill.
“Lauren (McFarland) had a great get, then Alexis (Snipes) set her and she drilled one down the line,” Greg Snipes said. “That seems to be when we play well. When the defense is playing well. We seem to feed off that.”
The second set was the biggest challenge of the match for Lehman.
Lucia had three straight aces to put the Cavaliers up 7-5.
After Sharkins made a one-handed stab near the backline and it fell untouched on Yellow Springs side, Lehman led 9-8.
But, Yellow Springs responded with the next four points and didn’t relinquish the lead until two Geise points, including a kill by Lucia tied it at 18.
“We were doing what we like to do,” Snipes said. “But, they were focused on blocking Olivia (Lucia). Once she threw a few tips in there, we were fine.”
McFarland then had four kills to keep the match even at 22-22. After the fourth one for a sideout, she served out the set with kills by Lucia and Geise and a spike by Abby Schutt.
“Lauren (McFarland) is one of our most consistent players, who does a lot of things for us,” Snipes said.
The third set was tied at 14, before Lehman began to take control.
Two kills by Lucia and an ace by Pyper Sharkins pushed the lead to 18-15. McFarland then had three kills and Snipes, Hussey and Abby Schutt each added one to give Lehman match point at 24-19.
Lucia finished things with a kill on Abby Schutt’s serve to give Lehman a sectional title.
“I told the girls, that is one of the things we work so hard and play the schedule we do for,” Snipes said.
McFarland had 15 kills and 13 digs, Lucia had 11 kills and 12 digs and Geise added 10 kills, while Snipes dished out 36 assists. Abby Schutt had six digs and Sharkins added five.
Now comes a chance to get to regionals — and Snipes hopes his team can unbottle what they did on the big points Wednesday for an entire match.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.