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Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Going out strong

Celina gives top-ranked Padua a battle in loss

By Gary R. Rasberry

Celina's Maddy Luebke, 17, spikes the ball as Parma Padua's Abby Leigh goes up t. . .

LEXINGTON - After falling in the first set to Parma Padua Franciscan 25-8, the Celina volleyball team had two options. One was to roll over and let the defending Division II state champions win in a laughable sweep. The second was to give the Bruins all they could handle to the very last point.
The Bulldogs chose the latter and battled hard for a second set win before Padua claimed the final two sets to take a 25-8, 24-26, 25-13, 25-11 victory in the regional semifinals at Lexington High School.
Padua (22-4) returns to Lexington on Saturday at 2 p.m. to face Lexington. The host Minutemen defeated Toledo Central Catholic in four sets to advance to the final.
"We had some miscommunications, but for the most part, we did well on serve receive and was pretty scrappy on defense," Celina coach Amy Sutter said. "(Padua) is heavy hitters and a well-coached team. They've got girls that are strong."
The first set saw the Bulldogs play almost in awe of the Bruins. Hitting by Abby Leigh, Ella Mihacevich and Maria Futey had the Bruins up 12-1 before a block by Maddy Luebke ended the run. After that intial blast, Celina tried to make plays, but Padua was no match in taking the first set.
Celina quickly put the first set out of mind and took a 5-1 lead to start the second set as Hannah Rasawehr and McKenna Black started to connect with their spikes. Padua came back and forced nine ties and four lead changes in the set. An ace by Samantha Ott put the Bruins up 22-19 before Celina launched a comeback. Three straight kills by Rasawehr and an ace by Paige Duncan moved Celina into the lead at 24-23. Leigh prevented Celina from clinching the set, but a hitting error by the Bruins and then a kill by Black evened the match at one set each.
"I don't know if I should admit this, but I screwed up the lineup the second game," Sutter said. "And that's the one we won. I thought about keeping that lineup (in the third and fourth sets). It threw (the Celina girls) off and they just played. They were excited and had fun."
Padua did not waste any time surging to the lead in the third set, going up 5-1 early, only to have the Bulldogs roar back to get within three points at 11-8. Padua pushed the lead back to 19-11 and then closed out the set with another run down the stretch to get within a set of finishing the match.
Although the margins of victory in the final two sets were wide, Celina forced several long points to keep the Bruins honest.
"Most of my timeouts were about not accepting their fate," Sutter said. "Not just standing their letting (Padua) take target practice but push back and play as hard as we could."
Celina wrapped up the season at 16-10. Sutter could not hide her pride in her team's making the sweet 16 for the second straight season.
"A lot to be proud of this season," Sutter said. "We had a lot of hills and valleys. They really are probably as good as the other successful teams we've had in the past. They're hard workers and want to be coached and get better."
Rasawehr had nine kill, Black finished with eight kills and Kassidy Fark had three kills in their final match.
Senior Duncan had 21 assists and classmate Hope Ebbing had 14 digs. The sixth senior, Carly McNeilan, had three digs.
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