ELIDA — Leipsic knew it was coming. But New Knoxville’s frontline play was too much for the Vikings to handle.
Senior Carsyn Henschen led New Knoxville’s aggressive play near the net, as she knocked down a total of 28 kills and made five blocks to help lead the New Knoxville volleyball team to a dominating three-set victory over Leipsic – 25-19, 25-11, 25-12 – in Thursday’s first of two Division IV regional semifinals at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Carsyn Henschen’s sister Avery recorded 13 kills on the night, while teammate Ellie Gable led the Rangers with 28 assists.
With the win, New Knoxville (24-2) will face Tiffin Calvert (23-3), the defending Division IV state champions, at 4 p.m. Saturday in a regional final in Elida. Leipsic ends its season 23-3.
In Thursday’s second regional semifinal, Calvert swept Hilltop in three straight sets, 25-20, 25-17, 25-11. In that match, Calvert senior Emma White recorded her 3,000th career assist.
The emotions were running extremely high amongst the New Knoxville contingent Thursday night.
Earlier in the week, New Knoxville head coach Meg Lageman lost her husband in a fatal auto accident.
“We just tried to focus on telling them that they were stronger than they could imagine – and to have fun and live in the moment,” New Knoxville assistant coach Jenny Fledderjohann said. “That’s all we can do right now; and I think they really did that tonight.”
New Knoxville controlled all three sets.
Leipsic’s first and only lead of the night came on the opening serve of the third set. However, that Leipsic lead was very short-lived.
In the first set, Carsyn Henschen knocked down nine kills. The Rangers’ largest lead in the opening set was 7, 21-14.
In the second set, New Knoxville picked up right where it left off. Carsyn Henschen hammered eight more kills to lead the way for the Rangers.
In the final set, Kasey Brough (six kills) put down a kill to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead. However, New Knoxville responded in a big way.
Carsyn Henschen went on to record 11 kills in that third and final set to put the exclamation point on the New Knoxville victory.
“She’s an amazing player. …She wants the ball down there,” Fledderjohann said about Henschen. “She knows it’s her time. We’re so excited for her; and we hope she can keep doing what’s she doing.”
Carsyn Henschen will be playing volleyball at the next level when she attends Duquesne University next school year.
Fledderjohann said her team played really inspired volleyball against Leipsic. She was especially pleased at the way her team slowed down Leipsic’s potent attack near the net.
“They’re a good team,” Fledderjohann said about Leipsic. “They are very scrappy. They have some strong hitters. But I thought we did a good job following where they were. … I thought we did a very good job with that.”
Versailles 3, Cincinnati McNicholas 2
After struggling early, the Tigers won the last three sets to beat Cincinnati McNicholas in a Div. III regional semifinal on Thursday at Trent Arena in Kettering.
McNicholas pulled away to win the first two sets 25-19 before Versailles dominated and won the third set 25-15. McNicholas took an early 7-3 lead in the fourth set, but Versailles rallied. The Tigers scored the last four points and 25-23 to force a fifth game.
Versailles scored the first nine points in the fifth game and held on for a 15-7 win.
Versailles (14-13) advances to face Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in a regional final on Saturday in Kettering.