Buckeye Central didn't go down without a fight during its Division IV state semifinal contest against top ranked Maria Stein Marion Local Friday afternoon. The Flyers defeated the Buckettes in three, 25-18, 25-21, 30-28.
"That is by far I think the best overall team we've faced this season," Buckeye Central coach Bill Bonham said. "They brought their defense to the floor and that is one thing we were hoping to take advantage of was a vulnerable defense and serve receive."
The Wright State University Nutter Center came to life during the last half of Game 3, with spectators gasping and holding their breath with every point. Tied 24-24, both teams went back and forth until Marion Local's Josie Winner came up with game-winning kill. There were 18 total ties during Game 3, nine in Game 1 and six in Game 2.
"I was confident in my team, but I have to give credit to Buckeye Central," Flyers coach Amy Steininger said. "The girls even said in the locker room they played excellent. They were a good team and it was hard to get points on them because their defense is so good and so scrappy. Bill (Bonham) is a great coach and I know he had them prepared for this game today. They played like we thought they would play. They should be proud. They played a great match tonight."
The Buckettes recorded 81 digs against a hard hitting Marion Local team which racked up 57 kills on its way to victory.
"That really goes to show you it doesn't matter what year you come down or what division you watch you are going to see great defense," Buckeye Central coach Bill Bonham said. "Some of that is training and some of that is team chemistry and trusting each other, but that shows you the heart and soul these girls play with and that's not coachable."
Buckeye Central's biggest advantage came in Game 2, jumping out to 4-0 lead before Marion Local picked up a point, but the Flyers rallied back. In Game 1 the Buckettes took a 16-15 lead, but the Flyers scored six unanswered points, making it a 21-16 affair.
"That has been nothing new for us all season," Steininger said. We haven't started off strong in sets this whole tournament run and we've been working in practice trying to be the first team to five points and first to 10 points. We start off slow for some reason, but if we manage to get the lead we hold on or stretch it."
Buckeye Central junior Maddie Williams had a big game, finishing with 21 digs and 13 kills. Senior Sammi Marcum recorded 14 kills and 14 digs and junior libero Brooke Karl had 21 digs. Sophomore Emily Weithman had 16 assists and 11 digs and junior Kilee Kimmel added 15 assists and nine digs. Senior Kendra Schultz finished with four kills and a pair of digs.
For Marion Local, Division IV Player of the Year Claire Heitkamp finished with 14 kills and 15 digs while setter Hannah Arling had 47 assists. Winner finished with 13 kills Gina Kramer had 14 kills. Libero Megan Wendel finished with 28 digs.
The Buckettes wrapped up the season with a 26-3 record. This was Buckeye Central's 10th trip to the state tournament and Marion Local's sixth. Both programs have won state titles. The Flyers were three-time defending state champions from 2007-2009. The Buckettes won state championships in 1993 and 1996. Buckeye Central's last trip to the Final Four was 2008.
Marion Local moves on to play Central Christian in the state finals today at 3 p.m. The