WILLARD - In the moments after Buckeye Central had won the second of two games against Norwalk St. Paul Thursday night, an exasperated Flyers partisan yelled to no one in particular.
"Come on," she said. "This is just another team!"
Thing is, Buckeye Central isn't just another team, and the Buckettes proved it a few minutes later, polishing off a 25-18, 25-22, 25-18 win over No. 2 St. Paul.
The victory gave BC a ticket out of one of the state's toughest districts for the first time since 2008. That season, the Buckettes made it to the state semifinals.
The Bucks didn't just beat one of Division IV's best Thursday, they dominated it, holding substantial leads late in all three games - only once did the Flyers tie BC when the scores had reached the 20s.
Buckeye Central coach Bill Bonham said his players set big goals at the beginning of the season. On Thursday, he said, they took a step toward achieving them.
"A lot of kids want things, and a lot of parents want things," Bonham said. "A lot of people say they're capable of doing something. Nothing bothers me more than a kid that says 'I'm a gamer; I can turn it on in a game.' These kids do it in practice. They've done it all season."
In the first game, things were tight until Sammi Marcum slammed a kill to give BC a 12-11 lead. An attack error by the Flyers followed, then a kill by Sierra Hanes made it 14-11. Buckeye Central never looked back after that, coasting to victory.
Game 2 provided the greatest amount of adversity for the Buckettes. A Maddie Williams kill put the Buckettes up 20-16, but St. Paul battled back to knot the game at 22 following a Elise Nickoli ace.
Bonham called timeout.
Marcum said BC didn't lose any confidence.
"It was all the positive attitude," Marcum said. "We knew we needed to come out and show them that we could finish a game."
Marcum finished with 17 kills and 20 digs.
The Buckettes did just that, converting on three straight points to close out the game.
"The key was, it was St. Paul; they're one of our big rivals," Williams said. "We were just real pumped up and wanted to get the job done and win."
Williams finished with 15 kills, 21 digs and two aces.
The Buckettes fell behind early in the third game, 5-2, but rallied to tie and take the lead.
Then the walls fell in on St Paul, as Buckeye Central used a 10-0 run to put itself on the verge.
St. Paul coach Nancy Miller said it wasn't just one thing that led to the game breaking away from the Flyers.
"I think it was a little bit of everything," Miller said. "I think our passing broke down, we had blocking errors and a few hitting mistakes. It wasn't really one particular area, it was a little bit of everything that kind of broke down across the board."
But the game wasn't over, as the Flyers got within 22-17 before Bonham burned the second of two timeouts in what became an 8-3 run.
"We were too confident," Bonham said. "They didn't do it all night, but that moment there is where they got relaxed. And they got a little too comfortable and a little to confident. (Norwalk St. Paul) threw some short serves at us that we couldn't execute the offense on.
"First thing to come out of my mouth was '(St. Paul's) not done,'" Bonham said. "Nancy Miller will not let that team stop playing, and they didn't."
But it was Buckeye Central's night, as it finished off the game, the match and the district.
"It feels awesome to say we beat St. Paul in three," Marcum said. "It would have been awesome to say we beat 'em, period, but it feels even better [to sweep]."
Emily Weithman had 25 assists, six kills and eight digs for BC, while Kendra Schultz and Jenna Delarber and Hanes each had four kills. Kilee Kimmel added 23 assists.
Up next for Buckeye Central is Cardinal Stritch at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Elida.