Columbus North ended 15 years of frustration against Columbus East.
Unfortunately for the Bull Dogs, they couldn’t upend another longtime nemesis in Bloomington South.
North knocked off East in three sets Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of its volleyball sectional. Saturday night, the Bull Dogs and Panthers split the first two sets, but Bloomington South won the next two to take a 25-10, 23-25, 25-17, 25-15 victory.
“It was a few unforced errors,” North coach Caitlin Greiner said. “Bloomington South is a solid team, and they attacked us. They have a nice, quick offense, and we never really could take and hold onto that lead for long periods of time.”
The Panthers (24-12) jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back in the opening set. The Bull Dogs did not win a point on their serve in that set.
In the second set, Bloomington South jumped out to a 9-4 lead, but North went on a 7-1 run behind the serving of Agustina Fainguersch and Sophie McKinney to take an 11-10 lead. The Panthers went back in front 23-22 before the Bull Dogs took the final three points to even the match.
Bloomington South led from start to finish in the third set. North led 13-11 in the fourth set before the Panthers scored seven in a row and went on to finish off the match.
“In Game 4, we had our moments and then we just kind of lost our momentum there,” Greiner said. “But the girls played tough. They did what was asked of them, and they fought hard.”
Maddy Sebahar led the Bull Dogs with 31 digs and an ace. Fainguersch, Lauryn James and Gabby Genth all pounded four kills and two blocks; while Katie McAninch had four kills and Emma Tynan added three kills, two blocks and nine digs. Lily Meyercord recorded 20 assists and eight digs, and Fainguersch notched 20 digs.
In the semifinals, North avenged a regular-season loss to the Olympians and beat them on the court for the first time since 2002. The Bull Dogs’ only other win over East came in 2005, when the Olympians had to forfeit for using a player in too many sets between the JV and varsity.
In this year’s regular-season meeting, North won the first two sets before East rallied to win in five. This time, the Bull Dogs finished off a 25-19, 25-20, 25-18 win after again taking the first two sets.
“My girls were focused, they executed our scouting report, they played their hearts out and they didn’t let up, which was great,” Greiner said. “It’s what we’ve been working on all year. Lily Meyercord did a phenomenal job of running our offense and finding our open hitters today.”
The first set was tied at 12 before North went on a 6-1 run to take control at 18-13. The Olympians scored the first four points of the second set and led 11-19 before the Bull Dogs came back.
East led the third set 4-2, but North rallied with six consecutive points to take an 8-4 lead. The Olympians were within 18-16 before the Bull Dogs pulled away.
“I think we just kept our heads in the game, and we stayed aggressive,” Meyercord said. “Our hitters were more aggressive, and we spread out our offense more. It’s been so long since we’ve been able to beat them, and we really showed them what type of team we are, and our hard work has really paid off.”
Meyercord recorded 21 assists and an ace, and Sebahar had 30 digs and an ace. Fainguersch pounded 11 kills, and Lauryn James had three blocks.
Fainguersch added two blocks and 15 digs, and Tynan had six kills, two blocks and 15 digs. McAninch and James each pounded six kills, Genth had five kills and two blocks and Carley Finke notched 14 digs.
For East, Rilee Jessee pounded eight kills, Kendal Williams recorded 2-0 assists, C.J. Clausen had four blocks, Allison Mack notched 16 digs and Ashlynn Bergman and Keeleigh Kikendall each served an ace. Clausen added seven kills, Mack had six kills and two blocks, Williams contributed 15 digs and Emily Banister tallied 13 digs.
“We’ve been working on East and their tendencies, and they did a nice job of focusing on what they were going to do and taking East out of what they wanted to do,” Greiner said. “On top of that, my girls really just continued to attack and be aggressive the whole time, where last time, they got a little timid when the score got tight, and the got down and lost their confidence.”