LEXINGTON — Celina had one last hurrah left in it in the Division II regional semifinals against Padua Franciscan but it was not enough to beat the Bruins as the Bulldogs fell 25-8, 24-26, 25-12 and 25-11 Thursday night at Lexington High School.
With the loss, Celina ends its season at 16-10 overall. Padua (23-4) advances to the regional finals Saturday against the winner of Lexington and Toledo Central Catholic.
When Padua routed the Bulldogs in the first set it appeared the defending state champions were going to make easy work of Celina. However, the Bulldogs put up a tremendous effort in game two to snatch away a set, but that would be the team’s final stand as the Bruins dominated the final two sets to advance to the regional finals.
Celina head coach Amy Sutter admitted in the second set she actually screwed up her lineup but the miscue paid off.
“I really thought about keeping that lineup,” Sutter said. “It threw them (Padua) off and took us out of our own heads and they were excited and they had fun.”
Sutter added that the team could have easily folded after the first set but battled back and the Bulldog head coach said that showed the desire and resiliency of the team.
However, mistakes and errors throughout the night hampered the Bulldogs’ efforts against a team where mistakes cannot be made.
“We had some miss communication and mistakes but for the most part our serve-receive did well and were scrappy enough on defense. They are heavy hitters. They’ve got a lot of girls that are just strong.”
The Bruins boast a bevy of top notch hitters with at least six hitters who had the power to record kills. Padua continually peppered the Bulldogs with spikes and scored on numerous kills.
“We like to move the ball around and keep it equal,” Padua head coach James BeHarry said. “We are a young team and are going to make errors but they really stepped up tonight.”
Padua’s Abby Leigh led the team in kills with 14 followed by Cami Budzik with 11 and Samantha Ott with nine.
While the Bruins came at Celina in waves, the Bulldogs spikers had to work for every point because of Padua’s outstanding defense at the net and on digs.
“Once we tried to make an adjustment and fill the gap or you play the middle they would hit line,” Sutter said. “They are just smart and have great court sense. It is kind of hard to defend six hitters who are coming at you constantly. We had a hard time generating our own kills.”
For the night, McKenna Black and Hannah Rasawehr each produced eight kills and Maddie Luebke recorded three blocks and Hope Ebbling notched 21 digs.
With the end of the season, Sutter says good-bye to six seniors.
“I told them they have a lot to proud of in this season,” Sutter said. “We had a lot of hills and valleys and they are as good as any successful team we have had here. They are hard workers that want to be coached.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1