FAIRBORN — There won’t be an all-Midwest Athletic Conference state final in Division III.
After winning the first set, Versailles lost the last three and fell to Mentor Lake Catholic 3-1 in a Division III state semifinal on Thursday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.
The Cougars ended the regular season as the number one team in D-III in the Ohio state coaches association poll, while Versailles was ranked third.
The first set went back and forth. Each time had their moments to take control over the set, but the other would come right back and tie it up.
Versailles used their serving to get Lake Catholic out of system and found ways to score. The Tigers took the first set 25-23.
The rest of the match, Lake Catholic got the better of Versailles. The Cougars got their offense going. Versailles would make it a rally, but Lake Catholic would keep up with them. Coach Liz McNeilan said the second and third balls from Lake Catholic gave their defense trouble.
“It was the second tempo ball that caught us off guard. Those are momentum kills. They did a great job of whenever their setter had a high hand, she’s got a quick release and we weren’t able to get a block up on those balls,” McNeilan said.
For the rest of the three sets, Versailles couldn’t get any momentum. Lake Catholic was able to get them out of system with their serving game. The Cougars had 12 service aces compared to the six from Versailles.
Despite being down for most of the match after the first set, the Tigers kept fighting. The players kept the mindset of focusing on the next ball after a point. But the runs from Lake Catholic threw off Versailles just enough to gain an edge.
“Our mindset was we have to think ‘We’re not down. We’re going to get this next ball.’ When they went on runs, it caught us off guard. We just didn’t get the next one,” senior Kirsten Bomholt said.
Versailles lost the second set, 25-16, and the third and fourth set, 25-17. The gap widened on the scoreboard as the Lake Catholic front line started to give Versailles some trouble.
Bomholt finished the match with 19 kills, the best on the team. Senior Hailey Porter finished with 12. Senior Brynn Briscoe finished with 34 assists in the match as the team totaled 41 kills. Lake Catholic managed 48 team kills with Katie Sowko leading them with 20 kills.
The Tigers end their season with a 22-7 record. Versailles never gave up during the match and the whole team had very high energy. The bench celebrated every point during the match.
That type of support and the culture Versailles has built during this season led them through this tournament run.
“We had our peaks, we had our valleys. But what is cool about these guys is that they had each others back at all times. Even in practice, you saw the extra high fives, you saw the momentum plays, you saw the belief in each other shine and I thought that took us very far on this tournament run. I’m super proud of them,” McNeilan said.
The run is also a big boost for the program. The whole team got to go through this new experience together. McNeilan said it has been great to see the community and the student section support them every step of the way during this run.
It may have not been the ending they wanted to their season, but they can look back to this year and remember all that they have accomplished.
“Even though we have a lot of seniors, it’s their first time out on the big floor. We’ll take that, we’ll ride with it, we were excited and it’s been fun. It’s been a huge ride, we’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” McNeilan said.