Central wins second straight sectional, defeats Toronto 3-0

GOING SKY HIGH — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Alissa Burchfield attempts a kill over Toronto’s Jamie Anderson during a Division IV sectional contest on Wednesday. Also shown is Central’s Edy Harold (7). (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

STEUBENVILLE — The home crowd got to see one more win from the Steubenville Catholic Central volleyball team Wednesday as the Crusaders swept Toronto in the OHSAA Division IV East District sectional championship match, 26-24, 25-10 and 25-15, to win their second consecutive title.

Central had a lot of times in between games, which coach Barb McEndree was pleased to see did not slow her club down.

“We had a lot of time between games because we didn’t make the OVAC,” she said. “We thought we might get in, so we couldn’t pick up any more games. We didn’t play all of last week, so I was little worried about how we would play. But the girls did well. We had been practicing, but not full out because we wanted them rested for the tournament, and I think it worked well.”

The Crusaders (12-8) advance to play No. 3 Monroe Central, who defeated No. 10 Caldwell in four sets on Wednesday, at a neutral location on Saturday.

“It feels great again,” senior Grace Godich said. “We got the sectional championship last year, and we got it again this year. It felt even better to get it against one of our big rivals.”

Getting another win in front of the home crowd was something special for the Central seniors.

“It feels amazing to win one more time in our lovely gym,” Godich said. “It was a great crowd. Everyone was loud. Our whole team was into the game.”

For Toronto, the loss wraps up a tough season for coach Cathie Thomas’s group, the Red Knights’ (4-15) first season as a member of the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference.

“It’s a very tough end,” Thomas said. “No matter who we are facing, we always believe we can win. We battled hard, and I thought we played a lot of inspired volleyball out there. There were times when we made some youthful mistakes. We have three freshman and three sophomores.

“These girls don’t give up. Their attitude has changed so much since the beginning of the season. A lot of it is because we were not used to losing. It was a big learning curve with the EOAC. There is a lot of competition.”

Toronto got seven kills and six digs from Gina Fogle, and four kills and two digs from Jenna Leasure.

“We are going to work very hard in the offseason, and we are going to be back next year,” Thomas said. “You can take that to the bank. We’re going to play our old game of Lady Red Knight volleyball. I told them, ‘Remember this feeling as motivation. Do you want to feel this extreme disappointment again next year or do you want to feel the excitement and sense of victory?'”

For Central, the seniors led the way. Godich had four aces, four kills, two blocks and six digs. Fellow senior Bonnie Thibault had 12 assists, four aces and two kills.

“Our senior Grace was really leading the way,” McEndree said. “She had the most energy and was pepping up the team. If they got down she got them back up. That’s absolutely what we expect from our seniors.”

“It’s great,” Thibault said.

“I can’t wait to play our next game. We’re going to play hard and hopefully win and keep going. It was really nice to get a win in our last home game.”