By Josh Brown
VANDALIA — Coming into the season, Troy junior Lauren Schmitz knew the lineage she was carrying on.
“Our past players, Camryn Moeller, Lauren Freed, they left big shoes to fill,” she said. “I knew I had to step up in big games and leave my heart out on the court.”
Schmitz had half of her match-high 18 kills during a second-set rally, helping the Troy volleyball team fight its way back from an eight-point deficit to win it, and the fifth-seeded Trojans came up clutch again late in the third to put away a 25-16, 27-25, 26-24 sweep of No. 4 Miamisburg in the Division I sectional championship match Wednesday at Butler High School.
Nine of Schmitz’s kills came in the second set as Troy (19-5) stormed back from a 14-6 deficit, and six more came in the back-and-forth third set to help the Trojans put away the match. She also added 14 digs on the night.
“I knew we needed a point, and someone had to do it,” Schmitz said. “And my team helped me accomplish it. We’ve worked a lot on it all week. Our setter, Morgan (Baber) gives me great sets, and our back court played really well.”
“She’s, dang, I mean, she played like she’s one of the best outsides in the area,” Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen said. “She came up and put down balls when we needed to put down balls. She flat-out outplayed Miamisburg. She wanted it more, she hit better shots. We trained her on where she needed to hit to score against their defense, and she just did an outstanding job.
“She’s an outstanding player, and tonight she showed why she’s one of the best lefts in the area. When we needed a point, she found a way.”
Troy cruised in the first set, spurred by a series of blocks led by senior Gabbi Johnson, as well as an eight-point service run by Brianna Slusher that staked the Trojans out to a 19-6 lead.
“Between our service game, which they struggled against, and our blocking game in Set 1, we really came out and blocked well,” Owen said. “Gabbi came out and blocked well. That was a rotational change we made with the hope she could get us going on a blocking spree, and she really did — and that kind of sparked everyone else’s blocking game. Our block was dynamite in Set 1. Between our block and our service game, we really controlled the tempo from the start in that first game.”
In the second, though, Miamisburg’s Caroline Mays served the Vikings (19-6) out to an early 8-2 lead, a lead that grew to as many as eight at 14-6.
The Trojans still trailed 19-13 when a kill by Schmitz handed the serve to senior libero Alexa Holland, who ripped off five straight points to tie the score at 19-19. Two of those points were aces, and the other three were kills by Schmitz.
“We were all nervous, and I just went out and told everyone to take a deep breath. We practice this all the time,” Holland said. “We have these situations against JV where it’s 15-6 and we have to come back or 23-23 and we have to win, so we know how to handle these situations. I’m really proud that, tonight, we came out and actually executed. It worked in those last two sets.”
Troy took its first lead of the set at 25-24, but an error evened the score again. A one-armed save by Holland that landed on Miamisburg’s side gave the Trojans the advantage again, though, and a Viking error gave Troy a 2-0 lead in the match.
“Our girls have some fight,” Owen said. “When we were down 18-12 in Set 2 and I called that last timeout, I told them we just needed to gain some momentum now, that any momentum we got now would help us going into the third set. I didn’t know if we had a shot to win it or not. But then they started to make some errors, we put some pressure on them and you see what happens.
“(Practicing those situations) puts them in that disadvantaged, ‘can you do it?’ situation. They’ve seen it before. They’re not afraid to play fearless on point 24. They play hard and play to win — why not? You’ve got nothing to lose. We put the pressure on them, and they struggled to put the ball away.”
And in the third, Troy led 15-8 before Mays served Miamisburg back into contention again — and the Vikings even took a lead as last as 21-20. But senior Payton Riley had three kills on the next four points to give Troy a 23-22 lead and, after Miamisburg reclaimed the lead at 24-23, Schmitz put down a kill, the Vikings committed an error and Holland served up an ace to ice the match — and send Troy to the district final.
“It feels great,” Schmitz said. “That was our main goal all year. Winning GWOC (the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) is always a goal, but getting back to districts has always been our main goal, so it’s really nice to accomplish that.”
“So good. So good,” Holland said. “I went out and first thing I said to the team was to not let this be our final first set. We have to play another game. Let us have two more practices and one final game. I’m proud that we all went out and did what we had to do, and now we’re going back to what our goal was from the beginning of the season. It was a team effort, and I’m proud of everyone — everyone on the bench, everyone on the court — it was a great team win.”
Riley finished with eight kills, one assist and 10 digs, Slusher had seven kills, an assist, seven digs and five blocks, Johnson had six kills, two digs and three blocks and Kate Orban had four kills, two assists, two aces, a dig and two blocks. Baber had 36 assists to go with two kills, an ace, 12 digs and three blocks, Holland had a team-high 18 digs to go with a kill, two assists and three aces, Emmie Jackson had seven digs, Brennah Hutchinson had three digs and Ella Furlong had two digs.
In the district final, Troy will face Ursuline Academy — the top-ranked team in the state in the season’s final D-I poll — at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Butler High School. Ursuline defeated the Trojans in last year’s district final.
It’s Troy’s fourth trip to the district final in the past five years, as well as its seventh appearance since 2008. It will be the third time the Trojans have taken on the Lions.
“This team has accomplished its goals,” Owen said. “They won the GWOC, and now we’re going back to districts. There was a point in time where it didn’t look like a possibility for us, but the girls have worked hard to turn it around. We’ve got some great seniors leaders and just quality kids that set some high goals and have worked hard to achieve those goals. I’m really proud of them.”
Miami East 3,
BROOKVILLE — During the regular season, Miami East needed five sets to knock off Arcanum to lock up the Cross County Conference title.
After Wednesday, the Vikings (17-8) appear to be peaking at the right time as No. 4 Miami East swept the fifth-seeded Trojans 25-19, 26-24, 25-19 in the Division III sectional final at Brookville High School.
Nichole Hood had 17 kills, 12 digs an assist and an ace, Sophie Jacomet had 14 kills, 18 digs, two assists and three aces, Lydia Conley had six kills and three blocks, Ashlyn Monnin had three kills and an ace, Schaffner had two kills, 31 assists, an ace and eight digs, Delaney Bourelle had a kill, Gabrielle Hawkins had 20 digs and an assist and Lauren Fisher had four digs.
Miami East will take on Williamsburg in the district final at 6 p.m. Saturday at Northmont.
Yellow Springs 0
COVINGTON — No. 4 Lehman was clutch when it needed to be Wednesday night, sweeping No. 7 Yellow Springs 25-19, 25-22, 25-19 in the Division IV sectional final at Covington High School.
Lehman advances to Saturday’s district final, where it will face Fort Loramie at Troy.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.