Versailles Advances to District Finals With Win Over Arcanum

The girls wanted this one tonight big and they knew Arcanum was going to come ready to play so hats off to them ... Coach Liz McNeilan

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Versailles Lady Tigers and Coach Liz McNeilan (R) keep eye on game with Arcanum. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

BROOKVILLE – The Versailles Lady Tigers punched its ticket to the OHSAA DIII Sweet Sixteen District Championship match with a 3-0 win over the Arcanum Lady Trojans.

Allison Schwartz serves for Versailles in tournament win over Arcanum. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“It’s tradition and the girls look forward to it,” Versailles coach, Liz McNeilan said following the win. “It is something they take a lot of pride in. The girls wanted this one tonight big and they knew Arcanum was going to come ready to play so hats off to them.”

Katie Sharp makes a return for Arcanum in tournament match with Lady Tigers. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“Versailles is a good team,” said Arcanum coach and WOAC Coach of the Year, Jacie Holman. “I’m not taking anything away from those girls. They were outstanding but we’re a pretty good team too. There were a lot of times we just didn’t put the ball away and unfortunately, Versailles went on big runs and we were making silly mistakes.”

Versailles’ Taylor Wagner goes strong to the net for the Lady Tigers in tournament win over Arcanum. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Both teams played well the entire night but Versailles’ tournament experience and athletic ability set the tone for the night.

The two Darke County teams opened first set play tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5 before the Lady Tigers took advantage of a 6-0 run to lead 11-5 lead and get its first double-digit lead of the night at 18-8 bringing a timeout from the Arcanum bench.

The Lady Trojans battled back to trail 20-14 with Versailles calling a timeout and go on to a 25-16 first-set win.

Emilie Fout makes an Arcanum set in tournament play with Versailles. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“Our blockers were setting up, we had our notes and we knew what we were going to apply tonight,” McNeilan noted. “It worked really well and everybody was in sync. Our blockers were doing their job getting the defense set behind them.”

Versailles opened with a 6-1 second advantage and went up 22-9 on its way to a 25-10 win to lead two sets to none on the night.

Ava Shardo goes for a Versailles kill in win over Arcanum. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“Defense just looked so controlled over their bodies, in system and we were aggressive on the attacks,” said Coach McNeilan. “They went exactly where we told them they needed to go to get a kill and executed beautifully. We were a very strong and dynamic as a team tonight.”

The Lady Tigers kept up its pace in set No. 3 bolting out to a 9-3 advantage and making it a double-digit advantage at 15-5. The teams played to a 10-10 count to close out the third set with Versailles winning 25-15 to move ahead on the 2023-2024 tourney trail.

“Credit to both sides, the energy was on fire,” McNeilan said. “Kudos to both sides for that – that’s fun volleyball.”

Arcanum’s Haley Smith slams a kill for the Lady Trojans in tournament with Versailles. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“I truly believe we fought to the last point,” Coach Holman stated. “Versailles just has an awesome back row and a killer front row that they can do things that we just could not handle tonight.”

Coach Holman took time to thank the Arcanum community for the support they received.

“I have to give it up to the Arcanum community,” she said. “They brought it tonight and it was awesome to experience that for our girls. I wish we could have been able to take it one further and had that community support even more because I know the community would come out even further but that was tremendous and I know it gave our girls a big boost tonight.”

Lily Johnting makes an Arcanum return in tournament matchup with Versailles. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Arcanum Lady Trojans playing their final high school volleyball game for the Orange and Black: No. 2 Lily Johnting; No. 5 Emilie Fout; No. 9 Ashlyn Miller; No. 15 Rylee Leeper, No. 21 Haley Smith; and No. 24 Katie Sharp.

“This group is the first group that I had at Arcanum,” said Coach Holman. “They were my first group of seventh graders so these seniors hold a super special place in my heart. These seniors are rock solid and it’s just not on the volleyball court, it is all over. They rock the basketball court, the softball field, in the classroom, they are an amazing group of girls who literally bring it 24/7.”

“It is going to be really hard to replace those six seniors,” she continued. “They have brought a different mentality to this Arcanum volleyball program and I truly believe that they are setting the standards right now for what they have done this year. I’m excited for the future of Arcanum volleyball.”

No. 5 seed Versailles will play No. 6 seed Cincinnati Madeira, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18, and 25-21 winners over Cincinnati Mariemont in the District Championship game, Saturday, October 28th at Fairfield Arena with a time to be announced.