By Rob Kiser
TIPPECANOE — A year ago, Catholic Central had ended Lehman Catholic’s 21-year run as volleyball district champions in the sectional finals at Tippecanoe High School.
One year later, the two teams took the floor again.
And when a scrappy Catholic Central, seeded seventh, took the opening set 25-19 and led 3-0 in the second set, there had to be reason for concern.
“I was just hoping we would come out the second set and show we were there to play,” Lehman junior outside hitter and power outlet Sidney Chapman said. “I think once we got the lead in the second set, it was ‘OK, we got this’. I think we knew we could win.”
Which was a relief to Lady Cavalier coach Greg Snipes after Lehman, the third seed, rebounded by winning the final three sets 25-10, 25-16, 25-15.
Lehman, 18-7, advances to play Miami Valley Christian Academy at 6 p.m. Saturday at Troy in a D-IV district final.
The Lady Cavalier had rallied from an 8-2 deficit in the opening set to tie the game at 16 on a Chapman ace, before the Lady Irish closed it out with a 9-3 run.
“We definitely didn’t play well that first game,” Snipes said. “But, you have to give Catholic Central credit for coming out and executing their game plan. They really played well. We had some girls who definitely didn’t play well that first game, but it was great to see the way they responded.”
None any more so than sophomore outside Maddy McFarland — who was a force in the final three sets.
“Maddy (McFarland) knows she had a bad game, but she played great after that,” Snipes said. “She just did everything — whether it was hitting, making plays in the back row, she did it all. It was great to see her respond like that.”
Three others who really picked up their games were middles Allie Hall, Marianne Hissong and Ellie Scott.
‘I thought Madeline (Smith) did a great job distributing the ball,” Snipes said. “I think experience was a difference today. A year ago, Allie (Hall) and Marianne (Hissong) might not have made those plays, but today they did.”
Lehman was trailing 5-4 in the second set, when Chapman served five straight points, including two aces and two McFarland kills.
Hall had a spike and block, while Chapman and McFarland each had four kills and Smith added an ace as Lehman finished the set on a 21-5 run.
With Scott picking up a block and Hissong throwing in a couple aces and a kill, it was more of the same in the third set as the Lady Cavalier took control. And the defense, led by Madison Hussey and Adriana Sehlhorst, kept the Irishi from every gaining any momentum.
And no matter how much teams try, there was no taking away Chapman, who was relentless in pounding the ball.
“I was just want to do whatever I can to help my team,” Chapman said.
And while the fourth set was close until midway through, the finish may have been most pleasing to Snipes.
With Lehman leading 21-15 and Chapman in the back row, Sehlhorst served four straight points to end it, with a kill by McFarland, before two kills and a tip by Hissong.
Just as pleased was Chapman.
“Any time the girls show they want to be out there and they want to play, that is great,” she said.
Smith dished out 45 assists in the match, while Chapman pounded 21 kills and had 10 digs.
McFarland had 13 kills and 11 digs, Hissong had six kills and three blocks and Hall added five kills and four blocks.
Hussey led a balanced defense with 25 digs and Sehlhorst added 12.
Now, it is time to start another district title string.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.