COVINGTON — It was the excitement of a young team breaking through on one side and the end of an outstanding season for a senior-laden group on the other side on the opposite end of a spectrum.
No. 9 seed Fairlawn stunned No. 2 Lehman Catholic in a Division IV district semifinal at Covington High School on Tuesday night, outlasting the Cavaliers 22-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-22, 15-6.
Fairlawn (13-12) advances to play Miami Valley Christian Academy in a D-IV district final at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Troy’s Trojan Activities Center. It’s the first time since 2014 the program has earned a district final berth.
“I am so proud of these girls,” first-year Fairlawn coach Ashley Miller said. “We came in with a game plan and they executed it. We have a bunch of sophomores out there. It was all heart.”
And a heartbreaking and stunning end to and outstanding season for Lehman, which finishes 20-5.
“We had a great season,” Lehman coach Carolyn Dammeyer said. “We really did. It was just not our night. We were just out of sync all night.”
And despite all that, the Cavaliers, which beat Fairlawn 25-12, 25-22 in the Lehman Invitational on Aug. 31, had what seemed like a comfortable lead. They led two sets to one and had a 19-13 advantage in the fourth set before everything went wrong.
“It seemed like if we get something working, something else would go wrong,” Dammeyer said. “It was that way all night.”
Fairlawn rode the momentum to victory, scoring 27 of the final 36 points in the match.
“We just kept battling,” Miller said.
At 19-13 in the fourth set, Lehman was called for an illegal hit on three of the next four points — along with a kill attempt going long.
Just like that, Fairlawn was within 19-17.
Reese Geise had a kill for Lehman, but Lonnie Heath had a kill on Jessie Abke’s serve to get the Jets within 20-19.
After Fairlawn hit the ball in the net, Heath answered with another kill and Kenedee Gallimore served two points to put Fairlawn in front 22-21.
Fairlawn broke a 22-22 deadlock with a block and Catherine Cardo served the final two points — on Lehman hitting errors — to make it 25-22 and force a race to 15 to decide it.
Geise started the fifth set with a kill and the Cavaliers still led 3-2 before things suddenly turned.
Fairlawn ran off nine straight points — with Lehman using both of its timeouts — to take an 11-3 lead.
After a kill by Abke to tie it 3-3, she stepped back to the service line and served eight straight points. Kylee Ginter had a block in the run and Heath had two kills.
“Those two (Heath, Abke) came to play tonight,” Miller said.
Lehman scored two points on a Fairlawn hitting error and a Jet rotation error, but Abke had a kill to make it 12-5.
Gallimore had an ace and Abke had a kill to make it 14-5. Abby Schutt had a spike to keep Lehman alive, but a serve into the net ended it.
Heath had 21 kills while Abke had 18. Ginter finished with six blocks, Heath had 18 digs and Abke had 17 digs. Taylor Lessing led the squad with 48 assists.
“You have to give Fairlawn credit,” Dammeyer said. “They played a great defense all night and they brought the ball at us.”
Which in the end, led to a spectrum of emotions on the floor at Covington High School.
Franklin-Monroe 3, Jackson Center 2
Jackson Center’s quest for a 13th consecutive district title ended with a 14-25, 25-21, 25-15, 16-25, 16-14 loss to the Jets in a Div. IV district semifinal on Tuesday in Covington.
Shia Akers led the Tigers with 17 kills while Sarah Clark had 14 kills and three aces and Deja Wells had 10 kills. Kennedy Jackson had 22 assists and four aces and Ashley Mullenhour had 14 assists.
Ava Winner led the squad with 32 digs while Jackson had 12 and Mullenhour had 10.
Jackson Center, which was the sectional’s No. 4 seed, finishes 14-11 overall. The squad will lose seniors Megan Argabright and Elizabeth Hickey to graduation.
No. 5 Franklin-Monroe advances to face Russia in a district final on Saturday in Troy.
Russia 3, Southeastern 0
The Raiders earned their fourth consecutive district final berth with a 25-10, 25-12, 25-21 victory in a Div. IV district semifinal on Tuesday in Troy.
“The girls played great against a good Southeastern team tonight,” Russia coach Aaron Watkins said.
Jessica York led the squad with 14 kills while Kate Sherman had nine kills and Ashley Scott and Cece Borchers had eight. Sherman also scored points with three aces and three blocks. Miah Monnin had a team-high 31 assists and Kendall Monnin had a team-best 14 digs.
The No. 3 seed Raiders (15-10) will face Franklin-Monroe in a district final on Saturday in Troy. They beat the Jets 3-0 in a nonconference game on Sept. 28 in Russia.
Fort Loramie 3, Troy Christian 0
The Redskins had no problems in a D-IV district semifinal on Tuesday in Troy and posted a 25-6, 25-9, 25-15 victory.
McKenzie Hoelscher led Fort Loramie with 15 kills while Ava Sholtis had eight. Maya Maurer had 35 assists and Hoelscher and Taylor Ratermann each had three aces. Macy Imwalle had a team-high 15 digs.
The Redskins (23-2) advance to face Cincinnati Country Day in a district final on Saturday in Troy.
Centerville 3, Sidney 0
The Yellow Jackets’ season ended with a 25-12, 25-11, 25-14 loss in a Div. I district semifinal on Tuesday in Centerville against the top-seeded Elks.
Faith Bockrath led Sidney with five kills and Darien McBride added three. Norah Houts served three aces and Abby Nuss added one. Cassidy Truesdale recorded three block assists and Allie Stockton added an assist and a solo block. Nuss picked up eight digs and Houts chipped in with six. Bockrath handed out 11 assists and Lea Baldwin added three.
Sidney finishes 13-11 overall. The Yellow Jackets finished first in the Miami Valley League Valley Division to capture their first league title since 1988.
Sidney will lose three seniors to graduation, including Bockrath, a setter. The squad’s other two seniors are right side hitter Ashlynh Duong and defensive specialist Lea Baldwin.
Sidney Daily News sports editor Bryant Billing contributed to this article. Billing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.