The Lady Flyers (19-4) — ranked No. 10 in the final state coaches poll — won by scores of 25-9, 25-3, 25-7 in a match that took just 52 minutes to complete inside Father Harvey Keller Gymnasium.
With the win, No. 1-seed St. Paul advanced to Monday’s district semifinal vs. St. Mary Central Catholic (11-11) — a four-game winner over South Central in Thursday’s first match — at 6 p.m. at Seneca East High School. Monroeville will face Buckeye Central in Monday’s second match.
In Thursday’s win, St. Paul served 17 aces as a team, never giving the Flames (3-16) a chance to get any rhythm established.
“We were really aggressive with our serving, which has something we’ve been working hard on along with serve receive,” St. Paul coach Nancy Miller said. “That first ball, side out, is a big key for us right now. But the biggest thing for us still is our pass. I feel like we’ve been working really hard at it. We’ve made a few adjustments, and I think the girls look really good right now.”
The closest Mansfield Christian got in any of the three games after 10 points was 16-6 — which quickly stretched to 18-6 after Kennedy Stang served a pair of aces.
The trio of Kamryn Maxwell, Megan Hammersmith and Anna Lukasko dominated up front — notably in Game 2 when the Lady Flyers raced out to a 15-1 lead. It was 18-3 before the Lady Flyers served out the final seven points of a 25-3 win.
With Miller substituting freely, the onslaught continued in Game 3. It was 13-4 almost in an instant, with Dyllan Knoll (9 points, 2 aces) doing the biggest serve damage in the eventual 25-7 win.
Hammersmith finished with 10 kills, 12 assists and served seven points with three aces. Maxwell added 10 kills and six points with three aces, while Lukasko had eight kills.
Also for St. Paul, Lauren Chandler served 15 points with five aces and added six digs, and Stang paced the defense with 10 digs.
“I just feel real good with where we’re at right now,” Miller said. “We’re working really hard in practice, and had three really strong practices this week coming into tonight. We are working hard on our weaknesses, and I feel like the kids are finally open to working on some of those areas and trying to improve in those areas.
“I see some kids stepping up,” she added. “One of them was Danielle Smith. We moved her around a bit tonight and she did a really good job with it.”
SMCC 3, South Central 1
NORWALK — The Trojans saw their season come to an end at 9-14 overall in a match that was a handful of points from going the other way.
South Central dropped the first two games to the Panthers by scores of 25-23 and 26-24. It won Game 3 (25-20), but could not keep that momentum in Game 4’s 25-18 loss.
“We got in that early deficit, but came out in that third game with a plan and executed it really well,” South Central coach Daren Walcher said. “But we just had some minor bobbles early on in Game 4 that again put us in a tough spot.
“We just struggled to get them out of system, and that’s also because St. Mary executed very well,” he added. “It was tough for us to get them out of system tonight.”
For the Trojans, Ellery McKee was 129-of-136 setting with 28 assists and was 27 for 29 serving with five aces. Taylor Sexton was 41-of-47 hitting with 10 kills and 19 digs, while Izzy Hauler was 39-of-39 hitting with 12 kills and 15 digs. Lorin Walcher added 16 digs.
“We knew it was going to be a rebuilding year because of the amount of young players coming in without varsity experience,” coach Walcher said. “We knew that would be tough, so we played with whatever they had left. This was the year of the heart. Some games against teams like this, that’s all we had left.”