NEW WASHINGTON ? At one point, one of Upper Sandusky's players ducked when Huron's Kat Ferrell unleashed one of her attacks. The ball didn't hit her, but it did hit the floor, like it did 15 other times on Wednesday night in the Division III District Semifinal at Buckeye Central High School.
Ferrell's vicious attacks along with those of her teammates, kept the Rams on the defensive and the Tigers on the move into the district final with a 25-14, 25-22, 25-20 victory.
"Huron is a fine team. They served us aggressively. We couldn't get into our system and you saw how that went on the court," Upper Sandusky coach Matthew McConnaughey said. "Kat Ferrell, she was almost player of the year. She's a great player and their setter moved the ball around well and split our blocks. We could get two people outside on her and she basically was hitting away on us. We couldn't stop it."
Huron coach Don Wood said his outside hitters were the difference in the game.
"I was real pleased with our outside hitters. They were definitely key for us with where we had to attack since they're so big in the middle," he said. "Our outsides did a good job attacking where we felt we had some good opportunities to maybe get some kills. I thought we moved the ball real well. If we were able to run our offense, I thought we had a chance to keep their middles at bay a little."
The Tigers (21-3) move on to face Wynford (20-4), which rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Margaretta in the opening match of the night.
The Tigers were nasty in the first game, racing out to a 19-6 lead. While the Rams (21-4) rallied a bit, aided by a pair of kills from Jessi Holly, Huron closed it out, 25-14.
"I expected them to play young. I also expected Huron to come out fired up," McConnaughey said. "I told my girls to just ride that out and then back to our kind of volleyball and that's what happened."
Upper Sandusky settled in in the second game, leading 6-2 and 10-6 before Huron climbed back to tie it at 10. The Rams got back in front 17-13, but another Huron surge tied it at 18. The teams traded one-point leads until it was 22-all. But a pair of kills from Hannah Cantrill and another from Ferrell closed out the contest.
"That was huge emotionally. There was a lot of emotion being spewed out in that first game and I was worried that we'd get on that roller coaster," Wood said. "They were able to stay level-headed and play through it. I think the experience of playing in that type of game helped us and forced a couple of mistakes at key times."
Huron maintained no more than three-point lead the first half of game three before Upper Sandusky called a timeout with the Tigers leading, 13-10. Upper Sandusky closed it to 13-12, 14-13 and then 15-14. A Ferrell kill ended the rally, then Rams hitting errors and another Ferrell put away allowed Huron to climb to an insurmountable 20-14 lead. The Rams tried though, using kills from Molly Owens and Taylor Graboski to cut it to 20-18. But points from Cantrill and Ferrell along with a Sydney Bragg helped Huron put the game away, 25-20.
"Their hitting and their serving really took us out of our game," McConnaughey said.
Graboski and Holly each had 12 kills. Allison Snyder had 24 assists in her final game. Graboski had 12 digs and Jenna Holly had 23 digs.
Sydney Grendow doled out 34 assists. Cantrill had 13 kills and Hadley Sterett had eight kills and two blocks. Bragg had 29 digs for the Tigers.
"I thought it was a great solid effort by our kids. That's a really good team that we just beat and I'm real happy about it," Wood said.