The Varsity Volleyball Bombers were voted as the number 2 seed in the South Region of the OHSBVA State Tournament after finishing the regular season with a 18-3 overall record. St. Xavier was selected as the host site for all South Regional Final games back in February before the season started and they looked to take full advantage of playing on their home court. They defeated Mason in straight sets on Thursday night to advance to Saturday where they matched up against the #3 seeded Elder Panthers who beat Milford on Thursday to advance. St. Xavier and Elder played three times during the season with the Bombers winning twice.
The whole match was played at a very high level as both teams played extremely well. The first set set the tone for the night as each team was at its very best. The Panthers played a little bit better as they took a back and forth set by taking control at the end and winning 25-22.
The Bombers bounced back in the second set which was also back and forth until the middle of the set when St. Xavier took control and pulled away to take an 18-14 lead before an Elder timeout. Elder scored the next two points out of the timeout but the Bombers responded and led 21-17 at the next Elder timeout. St. Xavier wrapped up the match by winning the next 4 out of 5 points to take it by a score of 25-18. Senior Jack Sorce led the way in the 2nd set with 4 kills and 1 ace while classmate Kevin McCarthy had 3 kills and 2 blocks.
The pivotal 3rd set was a copy of the 1st set as it was very much back and forth. Elder grabbed a three point lead at 11-8 that forced a St. Xavier timeout where they responded and got the set back to even. They found themselves down 21-20 and 22-21 but junior Leo Kastner came up with kills to tie the set back up each time. He then had another kill to make it 23-22 that forced an Elder timeout. The Panthers scored out of the timeout to make it 23-23 but the Bombers scored the next two points to win the set 25-23 to take a 2-1 match lead. Kastner led St. Xavier with 3 kills in the set while classmate Brian Mauch had 2 kills and 1 ace. Junior Will Connaughton and senior Ben Pung each had 2 kills in the set as well.
The Bombers looked to win the match in the 4th set but got down quickly by a score of 13-8. They won the next four points to get the set to 13-12 before an Elder timeout. The Bombers called timeout when they got down 20-18 to try and regroup for a final push. That push came when they got down 22-19 and scored two straight points to make it 22-21 before another Elder timeout. The Bombers then got the set to 24-23 and a chance to win the match but could not put it away. Each team had a couple opportunities to win the set before Elder finally put it away and won it 34-32 to force a deciding 5th set.
St. Xavier was not going to allow the Panthers to take away the title on their home court and started the 5th set with five straight points. The Bombers held the advantage throughout the set and took home the match with a 15-9 set win.
St. Xavier was led by Sorce who recorded 13 kills, 10 digs, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 ace. Kastner had 54 assists, 4 digs, 3 kills, 1 block. Senior Ryan Hilvert had 10 kills, 2 blocks and an ace as well for the Bombers.
St. Xavier (#2 final state poll) won the match 3-2 and claimed their 2nd straight OHSBVA Regional Championship and back to back trips to the OHSBVA State Tournament. They will face Hilliard Darby (#5 final poll) on Saturday, June 2 at 10:00 am at Capital University in the 2018 OHSBVA State Quarterfinals. The other teams at the State Tournament include St. Ignatius (#6 final poll), Northmont (#8 final poll), Beavercreek (#7 final poll), Jackson (#10 final poll), Moeller (#1 final poll) and Olentangy (#4 final poll).