BLUFFTON—Adams Central ensured that Bishop Luers would not win a fourth straight sectional title on Saturday when they knocked out the Knights in the semi-finals of the tournament in a three-game sweep 25-22, 25-16, 25-11.
Then the Lady Jets breezed by the Bluffton Tigers in three despite home-court advantage to earn their 13th sectional title in school history and first since 2008. Luers was king of the castle from 2009-11 and were primed to compete for a fourth looking equally as competitive on paper with AC.
But that was before they played the games.
In every aspect of the semi-finals, the Lady Jets dominated the Bishop Luers Knights.
Adams Central superintendent Mike Pettibone and athletic director Rick Minnich both stated the same thing afterwards when they said that Saturday's performance was the best they'd seen the volleyball team play since 2005.
First-year coach Ashley Beard remembers that team well as she was a junior that season at Adams Central as was her assistant coach Jamie Falkenstern. The duo were present for three sectional titles in their tenure at AC when they were known as Manley and Schwartz respectively.
AC jumped out to a 7-2 lead in set one against the Knights, then allowed them six of the next seven points for their first deficit at 9-8. Although the first set was competitive throughout, Luers would not earn a lead for the rest of the match.
There were several ties but the Jets led by a point or two the rest of the set until 20-19 when the defense became magical to watch. On that point, the Lady Knights threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Jets but kill attempt after kill attempt was thwarted by AC digs, many of which were diving efforts resulting in a point after over 20 exchanges from both teams.
AC would use the momentum to take a 23-19 lead and eventually win the set 25-22.
AC led 9-4 to start the second set hot once again, but the quickly deflating Knights would fade away into the mist rather than rally back as in the first set. AC would hold leads at 16-9, then 22-12 before ending the set at 25-16.
Amongst several calls Luers' coach Scott Shipman felt the Knights were on the raw end of, the match began to slip away, particularly in the third set. Play was stalled on four different occasions with the Knights pleading to the officials for replays ultimately taking Bishop Luers out of the game mentally.
AC would capitalize on a 25-11 third set that made it appear they were playing a junior varsity squad and not the juggernaut who were the three-time defending sectional champions.