By Chris Chaney
Strong postseason runs by a handful of Clermont County volleyball teams have players and coaches excited for what’s next. Milford, Clermont Northeastern, Williamsburg and Felicity-Franklin all won multiple postseason matches and made an appearance in their respective sectional finals.
In Division I, Milford’s path to the sectional final was paved by improbabe upsets. The No. 16-seeded Lady Eagles were underdogs in each of their three matches and were able to overcome two-games-to-none deficits in the first two to advance.
Trailing No. 14 Fairfield 21-25, 24-26, head coach Lauren Cooper’s squad showed the resilience to respond to adversity and win the next three games 25-16, 25-22 and 15-13 to move on to the sectional semifinal.
Again underdogs, this time to No. 12 Anderson, Milford dug themselves into a 0-2 hole, 23-25, 18-25. However, that mental fortitude showed itself again as the Lady Eagles were able to claw back and defeat their Eastern Cincinnati Conference rivals in five sets.
In the sectional final, Milford had used up all their magic, falling to second-seeded Mount Notre Dame in straight sets.
Elsewhere in Division I, Glen Este was able to win its first-round match over Walnut Hills in three games, but fell to No. 5 Lakota East in straight sets in the sectional semifinal.
Amelia, the No. 27 seed, fell to No. 22 Princeton in the first round of the DI sectional at Ursuline, 25-9, 25-13, 25-14.
In Division II, Clermont Northeastern proved to be the class of the Southern Buckeye Conference. The National Division regular-season champions garnered a No. 5 seed and took care of opening-round opponent Clinton-Massie in straight sets to advance into the second round where they would face the winner of an interdivision SBC battle. New Richmond took down Batavia in that match, 25-13, 25-22, 25-23.
The Lady Lions and Lady Rockets met in the sectional semifinal for the second time this season and CNE was able to even the season series at one win a piece as they sent New Richmond packing with a four-set victory.
Reaching the sectional final at Blanchester, CNE came up against top-seeded Wyoming and were unable to put up much of a fight against a stout Lady Cowboys team. CNE ended the season with an 18-7 record.
The other Division II team in action was the sixth-seeded Goshen Lady Warriors. While they drew familiar conference opponent Norwood in the first round, Goshen was unable to win a game off the Lady Indians, finishing their season with a 10-12 record.
In Division III, the Williamsburg Lady Wildcats flourished in their sectional thanks to a solid draw that allowed head coach Kim McCarty to put the team up against opponents that they had seen during the regular season.
“I definitely think (the draw) played to our advantage,” McCarty said. “We came out pretty good on top of Summit, knowing how they play, but fell short a little bit on Mariemont. We just weren’t up to our ‘A’ game that day, but knowing our opponents coming in was a great advantage.”
The Lady Wildcats took care of business in the first round, only giving up 30 points to Ripley in the three-game match. Then, as McCarty referenced, took down a solid Summit Country Day team in four sets.
Playing Mariemont in their own gym in the sectional final, the Lady Wildcats fell 25-21, 25-19, 25-19 to end the season with a 15-8 record.
McCarty said she is excited about the prospect of where her program is going, especially with so much young talent that know has a year of experience.
“I definitely have a great group of eighth graders moving up and they’ll be a good asset coming in,” McCarty explained. “And with another year of experience for these freshmen that we already have, within the next couple years I think Williamsburg is going to have a very, very good team.”
Besides Burg, Bethel-Tate was the only other team competing in Division III with the Lady Tigers bowing out in the first round to third-seeded Madeira.
Finally, in Division IV, the last team that made a sectional final run, the Felicity-Franklin Lady Cardinals, was perhaps the most unexpected. Boasting just a 5-11 record heading into the postseason, head coach Damon Smith said that the difficult schedule that the Lady Cardinals faced helped them prepare for a postseason run.
“What helped us throughout the season and being in Division IV, we only played two teams all year that were our size,” Smith said. “Our schedule is made up of teams from Divisions I, II and III, so we’ve had to play hard all season long.
“Coming into the tournament, I felt like the team had gelled and overcome some of the mistakes that we had made early on.”
The Lady Cardinals marched to the sectional final playing teams that were seeded higher than them, as they had much of the season. In the first round, No 5 Felicity took down No. 4 Cincinnati Country Day in three games and then did the same thing to second-seeded Lockland in the sectional semifinal.
The dream run came to an end as they faced the top-seeded Fayetteville Lady Rockets on Oct. 19. Fayetteville took down Felicity 25-13, 25-18 and 25-11 to move onto the district.