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Crusader Volleyball headed to the OHSAA Final Four

We hope you've heard the news, Crusader Volleyball is headed to the OHSAA State Final Four! Our ladies play this Friday (Nov. 10) in Dayton. The school is having a send-off for them on Thursday before they leave and two buses are headed down on Friday to cheer the Crusaders on to victory! 

Here is more from The Repository

'Total shock': Central Catholic High School volleyball reaches first OHSAA state final 4

Steve Doerschuk
Canton Repository

STRONGSVILLE - Canton Central Catholic kept driving Buckeye Central halfway back to Crawford County.

Buckeye Central kept slamming the brakes and breathing fire.

Enough was enough. On match point in the fourth set of Saturday's OHSAA Division IV regional championship volleyball battle, Central Catholic senior Sydney Turner tapped a return to no woman's land.

The ball hit the floor as the Crusaders jumped toward the roof, celebrating the first final four in program history.

Playing back the scene 20 minutes later, Turner said:

"I didn't know what to think. It was total shock. I fell to the ground and started crying."

Central Catholic lost the first set in the best of five 25-20. The Crusaders took early control in the remaining three sets, lost control late each time, but dug deep for wins of 25-23, 25-23 and 25-21.

"Our girls really cranked it up and made their own momentum," head coach Lauren Colla said. "They did a great job staying level headed. They played with a lot of heart."

The Crusaders advance to the state semifinals against Tiffin Calvert at 6 p.m. Friday at Wright State University, near Dayton. In the first game of a D4 semifinal doubleheader, Shenandoah faces New Bremen at 4 p.m.

The state title match is set for 5 p.m. next Saturday at Wright State, about a three-hour bus trip from Central Catholic.

"We're ready for whatever," said senior Lauren Neisel. "We have the experience and we've prepared all year. We'll be fine."

The theme of the day was "do what you've gotta do." The big crowd set the tone, spontaneously singing the national anthem when a technical glitch had everyone standing around waiting for a recorded version.

The communities were strangers scoping each other out.

Buckeye Central is 40 miles south of Cedar Point, 40 miles west of Ashland, and 90 miles west of Klinefelter Boulevard in Central Catholic country.

Central Catholic's student section provided noise and comedy behind the Crusader bench.

Buckeye Central was led by Mia McDougal, Mara McDougal and Maren McDougal, daughters of head coach Missy McDougal.

"Those three sisters jump out," Colla said.

At one point during a close first set when a power hit by Mara McDougal whistled out of bounds, one of the Central Catholic students yelled, "A little too much mustard on that one, Mara." Yes, the boys knew each of the sisters' names.

The same sister soon hit an All-Ohio slant spike. The Buckettes took the set 25-20.

"Coach mom" was far from overconfident.

"I didn't think we played well even in that first set," Missy McDougal said. "Central Catholic has two primary hitters, No. 33 (Madison Heiser) and No. 34 (Neisel). We wanted to make sure we knew where they were.

"We held them in check for a while but they started to hit some holes we couldn't get covered."

Central Catholic led the whole way in the second set but it was still a thriller.

Jaeda Johnson's diving dig cleared the net and dropped and gave the Crusaders a 17-13 lead. Buckeye Central rallied and cut a deficit to 23-22 on a Mara McDougal block against Heiser, the tallest player in the Strongsville High School gym.

The Crusaders hung tough on some long points and pulled it out 25-23.

Set No. 3 was a nerve frazzler.

Central Catholic stormed ahead 14-6 to prompt a Buckeye Central timeout. The Buckettes then got to everything and took a 23-22 lead. A Heiser spike took Central Catholic to set point at 24-23.

Molly Marceric got to a ball as she spotted a gaping hole in the left corner. Her soft hit to the perfect place finished the set.

"Their passing was on and all of their hitters were kind of hot," said Mia McDougal, a senior. "We didn't have the same thing going for us."

The Crusaders were on their way to a blowout in the fourth set. A couple of side-by-side blocks from Turner and Heiser, and a few spikes by Neisel highlighted a charge to a 20-11 lead.

Buckeye Central made it uncomfortably close, pulling to within 24-21.

Yet, the Crusaders didn't seem uncomfortable. They are a team full of seniors, one that reached the regional semifinals last year.

Heiser, one of the seniors, was sure the Crusaders would prevent Buckeye Central's service runs from being too long.

"Our defensive players were amazing," she said.

Central Catholic is within two wins of a state championship.

"I really do believe we have a chance," Heiser said. "If we play like we did in the last three sets, we can win it."

To see more, visit 
The Repository.


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