The Tigers (21-3) turned back a scrappy Western Reserve team 25-21, 25-17, 25-19 to advance to Thursday’s district final at 6 p.m. against Crestview (20-4).
The Roughriders defeated the Tigers in the district semifinals last season, but Huron erased any ideas about another upset by taking care of business at the net.
“We’re fortunate we had that advantage because they were handling the ball better than us,” Huron coach Don Wood said. “They are a very good defensive team.”
The Roughriders, who had only one player taller than 5-foot-8, had leads in each game.
“Their front row, we couldn’t go in and swing and get kills easily,” Western Reserve coach Lisa Muenz said. “When we got into long rallies and they blocked the ball, we had a hard time with that. Huron controlled the net and controlled the serve. We couldn’t get past that.”
Senior Olivia Lagando, who on Monday was named Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division Outstanding Performer, led the Tigers with eight kills and six blocks. She was 18-for-20 hitting and 11-for-11 serving.
Western Reserve led 10-8 in the first game before the Tigers reeled off four straight points with Lagando serving. MaKenna Schafer (five kills in the match) smashed a big spike to make it 24-20 and Katie Springer clinched the game with a kill.
Springer had eight kills in the match and added 14 digs and was 11-for-11 serving. Indira Stefano was 18-for-18 serving and Georgi Moody had 21 assists. Ally Gresh added seven kills.
Huron, ranked No. 3 in the Division III state coaches poll, trailed 6-2 and 12-10 in the second game before chipping away. With Kamryn Lobsinger serving, and contributing two aces, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to take a 17-12 lead. Lagando had a block and kill to help seal the game.
The Roughriders, took a 7-2 lead in Game 3 on a block by Emma Weber, but hitting errors hurt the No. 4 seed. The Tigers ran off nine straight points to take an 11-7 lead. Lagando’s kill in the middle of the court off a Moody set finished the match.
“We just wanted to get past the district semifinals,” Wood said when asked about any revenge factor. “Obviously no one wants to lose that same match again, but we just wanted to move on.”
Huron had only eight hitting errors in the match and at times simply outlasted the Roughriders.
Avery Tubbs led the Roughriders (17-8) with nine kills. Weber had eight and Morgan White and Alyssa Burch seven each.
White added 14 digs and Morgan Spettle had 11. Hannah Burke had 28 assists. Burch had eight service points and Jessa Riley added six.
Western Reserve had seven returning players from last season’s team, which knocked out Huron in five games. But the Riders graduated some key front-row players.
“I’m proud of these girls; they fought to the end,” Muenz said. “We beat Huron last year for the first time in forever. We beat St. Paul (this season) for the first time in 13 years. This group overcame a lot of obstacles. They were so fun to watch because of their hustle and heart.”