It was close for two and a half sets.
But in the end, Our Lady Academy is once again a state champion in volleyball. The Crescents (33-7) won a fifth straight title and 11th overall with a 25-22, 25-21, 25-10 victory over Coast rival Resurrection in the MHSAA Class I final Saturday.
“The secret is the girls we have buy into our program,” said OLA coach Mike Meyers. “They do everything they are asked to do.”
The first two sets were close throughout with seven ties in the opening set when there was no lead of more than three points, and eight in the second set. The third set started out the same way, with OLA holding a 10-9 lead before running off 13 straight points.
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Meyers said everyone on his team played well “And they have all season. But certainly Emma Funk is the key to our offensive and defensive talent.”
Funk led the Crescents with 24 kills. Alia Tayara had 16 kills and Hannah Gest contributed 35 assists and 14 service points.
OLA won 12 straight sets in the playoffs, the closest being 26-24 against St. Joseph in the semifinals Friday.
“I feel like we got better all season long and peaked at the end,” Meyers said.
With a change in the playoff format from the traditional North State vs. South State final, Resurrection reached the championship match for the first time after repeatedly being knocked out by OLA in South State play.
“We payed like state champions for two and a half sets,” said Lady Eagles coach Keith Tucker. “People thought this was going to be a rebuilding year for us because we lost five seniors off a 28-5 team that was tremendous. But these girls stepped up and went 22-8. In 20 years I had not been to the state championship match. They got me here and I am so proud of them.”
Icy Walley led Resurrection with 14 kills and 17 digs.
What will it take for the Lady Eagles to finally win a state title?
“Just keep working, that's all I can say. We are going to just keep working,” Tucker said. “I'm going to try to do a better job of coaching and they are going to try to do a better job of playing.”