Using a kill from Lydia Weirs and a big block to pull within one point, 24-23, Willard had all the momentum to potentially force things to a fourth game. But a kill by Holy Name’s Kayla Jarosz put the game, and the match away for the Green Wave.
Holy Name beat Willard, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23 in Saturday’s Division II regional championship at Lexington High School. The No. 3-ranked Green Wave (23-3) took down its second straight Sandusky Bay Conference opponent, having defeated Oak Harbor in the regional semifinal Thursday.
“I told the girls afterwards in the huddle: ’It wouldn’t hurt so bad if we didn’t work so hard to get here.’” Willard coach Ashley Bond said. “We worked incredibly hard to get here and that’s what makes hurt, so I said that’s a good hurt to have at the end.
“They have hitters everywhere, and I knew that from scouting them,” she added of Holy Name. “You can’t just key in on one player. They play in a tough league up in the Cleveland area … they’ve seen all those teams twice a year. For us to compete against them was awesome, but we didn’t quite have it tonight. We weren’t at our best — we had to be at our best to beat them, and we were good, but we weren’t at our best.”
The Flashes, playing in their first regional championship since 1985, jumped out to a 12-8 lead in the first game on Cassidy Crawford’s serve. A kill from the junior tied the game at 8 and gave Willard the serve. A pair of Willard blocks bookended the run, which included a double hit from Holy Name and an ace from Crawford.
A kill from Jarosz gave Holy Name a 15-14 lead that it never relinquished, as the Green Wave pulled ahead 21-15 on the serve of Samantha Snow.
Game 2 stayed close throughout with six ties and neither team leading by more than three points until the very end. Willard was called for a double hit, then Holy Name used a block to go ahead 24-21 before the Flashes hit the ball into the net to end the game.
Being down 2-0 in the tournament wasn’t a new experience for the Flashes, who rallied to beat Lexington in the sectional championship, 18-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-10 on Oct. 18.
“I just said to someone the other day, we were actually lucky to get it out of sectionals, and then to be in regional finals, that’s crazy.” Bond said. “In sectionals, it was one call. We had one call that sparked us, and changed the momentum and changed everything. That changed the whole entire season. If we lose in sectionals, nobody remembers you. Everybody remembers you now.”
In the third game, Willard jumped out to a 9-3 lead on the serve of Chloe Weaver. A pair of Holy Name errors started the run, while a pair of aces from Weaver and a kill by Lydia Wiers made it 8-3. Jarosz hit a spike out to give Willard the 9-3 lead, before a kill from Snow gave Holy Name the serve.
The teams traded the serve, with the Flashes holding onto the lead throughout, until a kill from Holy Name’s Zelie Kessler tied the game up at 18 on Caitie Masters’ serve. An ace by Masters gave the Wave the lead for good, with the Flashes pulling to within one late, before Jarosz hit the match-winning kill.
The Flashes end the season with a 19-8 record, and graduate five seniors: Jena Adams, Kassidy Lofland, Lydia and Chloe Wiers, and Sydney Stevens.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better first season with better seniors than I got this year,” Bond said. “They had a pep rally yesterday for them in the school and I don’t think the entire school has ever been that loud, realizing what was happening there.
“Everybody you saw, it was ‘Congratulations, Congratulations.’ It was a great feeling for them to know that they worked so hard, and that it all paid off. Amazing,” she added.