FAIRBORN — Buckeye Central head coach Bill Bonham didn’t wait until Saturday to proclaim a volleyball state champion in Division IV.
He’d already seen the Marion Local Flyers up close on Friday wield three unstoppable hitters to a three-game sweep in a state semi-final.
Bonham doesn’t see anyone having an answer for what the Flyers can put on the court. He said he expected Marion Local to hoist its fourth state title trophy in six years on Saturday.
“Not to take anything away from the other two teams who played earlier, but Marion Local’s pretty damn tough,” Bonham said. “Boy, they’re good.”
Marion Local will play Kidron Central Catholic today in the Divison IV state championship match at the Nutter Center on the campus of Wright State University at 3 p.m.
Claire Heitkamp and Gina Kramer led the Flyers with 14 kills apiece and Josie Winner had 13 kills. Hannah Heitbrink added nine kills.
“Any time you have three hitters that are that big, but not only big but can get off the floor,” Bonham said.
The Flyers are at their peak right now after a season in which they lost both of their starting middle hitters for long periods of time to injury. Hannah Heitbrink was out until late September. Josie Winner broke her foot and only recently returned.
Now Marion Local is whole.
“This is the team I envisioned this season,” Marion Local head coach Amy Steininger said. “When we got Josie back in the tournament, it was just a spark for our team. We did well without her. We managed to win the MAC, but with her it was just icing on top of the cake.”
It’s not such a sweet deal for opponents of the top-ranked Flyers.
Marion Local is in search of its fourth state title and first since a three-peat in Division IV from 2007 to 2009. If the top-ranked Flyers win they will be the 11th team in Ohio history to win at least four state volleyball titles. Only St. Henry, with its seven state championships, has more among Midwest Athletic Conference teams.
Marion won the first set, 25-18.
The Flyers turned it up midway through the second set for a 25-21 win.
Marion Local won a long, exciting 30-28 third set that had both teams facing set point numerous times. Claire Heitkamp finally finished off Buckeye Central with a resounding spike.
“Any time both coaches use their two timeouts and then have to sit there and watch the final 15 points of the set, that’s fun,” Bonham said.
The Flyer student section began chanting, “Let’s play football!” in a callback to Marion Local’s 48-point pasting of Buckeye Central in last year’s Division VI state football championship game.
Buckeye Central lost to common opponent St. Henry early in the season in its fourth game of the season in three sets — a St. Henry team that defeated Marion Local a season ago en route to a state championship.
Marion Local def. Buckeye Central 25-18,25-21,30-28
Buckeye Central (26-3) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Sammi Marcum 14-2-2; Madison Williams 13-1-0; Kendra Schultz 4-0-1; Sierra Hanes 2-0-0; Kilee Kimmel 1-0-0; Emily Weithman 1-0-0; Jenna Delarber 1-0-0; Aleesha Siesel 0-0-1; Totals 36-3-3.0. (Assists) - Emily Weithman 16; Kilee Kimmel 15. (Dig leaders) - Brooke Karl 21; Madison Williams 21; Sammi Marcum 14; Emily Weithman 11; Kilee Kimmel 9
Marion Local (25-3) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Claire Heitkamp 14-0-2; Gina Kramer 14-0-0; Josie Winner 13-0-2; Hannah Heitbrink 9-0-2; Hannah Arling 4-0-0; Clara Wuebker 1-0-3; Brianna Hess 1-1-1; Cadence Jacobs 1-0-0; Totals 57-1-6.0. (Assists) - Hannah Arling 47. (Dig leaders) - Megan Wendel 28; Clara Wuebker 15; Brianna Hess 13; Hannah Arling 12; Allie Thobe 10
Saturday, November 10
Division II Final
Norwalk vs. Beaumont
Division I Final
Ursuline Aca. vs. Mass. Jackson
Division IV Final
Kidron Cent. Chr. vs. Marion Local
Division III Final
Miami East vs. Ready