In Ohio, football is king.
It always has been.
It always will be.
For Seneca County, volleyball has to be queen.
For the second straight year, the county had a team at the state volleyball tournament.
And for the second straight year, the local team fell in the state semifinal to a team from the Midwest Athletic Conference. Last fall it was St. Henry knocking off Mohawk in five games. On Friday, it was Marion Local beating Buckeye Central in three.
The MAC is arguably the best league in the state and some would make arguments for best in the country. Think of the MAC as the SEC of college football. If a high school championship is being contested, it's likely involving a school from the MAC.
And the Bucks have probably seen enough of the Flyers. For the second straight year, it's been Marion Local who has beat them on the grandest stage in high school sports. The Flyers bested the Bucks in football last year in the Division VI final.
Like the school's explosive football team last fall, on Friday the Flyers displayed amazing athletes and sickening kills. Sure the Buckettes got their shots in (as well as their digs), but time after time it was the Flyers who came away with the points.
And like last year, Friday's semifinal was the de facto state title game as Kidron Central Catholic doesn't have the horses to run with Marion Local today. That game will be over in three sets and not close.
These Flyers are No. 1 for a reason.
Not only are they big. They are fast. They can jump. And they don't stop. It seems like every time one of the big guns, Claire Heitkamp, the player of the year in Division IV, or Josie Winner, an honorable mention All-Ohio selection last year, would rotate out of the front row, there were two more vicious windmills awaiting Buckeye Central. It didn't stop.
Winner was one of the best players I've seen in a long time and she had the quickest swing I've ever seen. The ball would go up and Winner's arm would blur and the ball was gone.
The Buckettes played well but needed about two more girls on the floor to stop the barrage of attacks Marion Local had. And that's saying something, given how good the BC defense has been this year. Friday was no exception.
Like the football team that went to the state last year, the previous BC volleyball team may have been a more athletically gifted team. But like their football team last year, this BC team played as a more cohesive unit than the previous squad.
And that's why they found themselves in Fairborn on Friday.
The question remains if they'll be back there next year.
It was a foregone conclusion in many people's minds, including mine, that Mohawk was going to be in Fairborn this year, returning to the state tournament after losing just three seniors, including two starters.
But McComb had other plans for them in the regional semifinal, ruining the all-Seneca County final many were hoping for between Mohawk and Buckeye Central.
Buckeye Central loses three seniors off this state semifinal team, including two starters but returns everyone else. Sound familiar?
Mohawk (23-3) loses some key players including Ashley Parker, Sarah Parker and arguably the most underrated player in the area, Lynsey Trusty. Sarah and Lynsey are both All-Ohio selections this year.
Buckeye Central (26-3) loses All-Ohio first-teamer Sammi Marcum and Kendra Schultz. What they lose in Marcum is a bottle of enthusiasm. Every time that girl makes a big kill, it's like someone shook her up like bottle of champagne and she erupts with enthusiasm and vigor. They bring back the area's nastiest serve in Maddie Williams, a third-team All-Ohio selection this year.
New Riegel loses just one senior, Cassandra Acree, the team's starting setter, off a team that lost twice, both times to Mohawk, in a 23-2 season. They bring back All-Ohio second-teamer Kara Scherger and All-Ohio honorable mention Lauren Ladd.
Alex Cameron and Allison Snyder, the team's setter for the last four years, are the only graduates off an Upper Sandusky team that went 21-4. They return All-Ohio second-teamer Taylor Graboski.
Between the four teams, they were a combined 93-12. Seneca County may not be the MAC. But it's pretty good.
Buckeye Central has been to the state tourney 10 times in its history, winning a state title twice.
Hopewell-Loudon has gone nine times, including in 2009, winning five state crowns.
Year after year, the area is sending multiple girls to college to play volleyball.
In the last five years, Seneca County has had a team make it to the state tournament four out of five years.
I think we'll be talking about five of six next year.
Volleyball season can't come soon enough.
Aaron Korte is a sports writer for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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