HUDSON: On the brink of a first-time occurrence in school history, Hudson’s three captains came through, controlling the net and keeping points alive to oust Jackson 3-0 in a Division I regional final at Hudson on Saturday.
The Explorers (21-6) took the first set 25-21, survived an early Jackson rally in the second set to win 27-25 and breezed through the final set 25-13 to capture the first regional championship in school history.
“It’s unreal,” said senior Krissy Mummey, who had 14 kills and 5 blocks, both team highs. “I knew this was one of our goals and I knew we were capable of doing it, but in tournament time you never know what can happen. I’m just so happy of my team and I can’t believe I’m a part of something like this.”
Mummey led the way much of the day with a couple of key spikes and blocks late in the first two sets. Senior Celia Cristofoli, another captain, had 9 kills and a team-high 13 digs. And junior Jordan Mackay, the third captain, added 9 kills and 4 blocks.
Those three controlled the tempo and Hudson’s back row kept numerous points alive, forcing Jackson (24-4) into a few mistakes. Eventually, those mistakes caught up with the Polar Bears.
“They [Hudson] played relentless, they didn’t give up on balls,” Jackson coach Jeff Walck said. “They kept chasing after balls. And they kept forcing the ball at us. I’m going to give them a lot of credit. … They dictated the tempo today and I think when you do that, you win.”
After Mummey slammed home the final point of the first set on a spike, Jackson jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the second set, forcing Hudson coach Jessica Ciborek to use a timeout. Mummey, Cristofoli and Mackay all contributed at least a block and spike in the next several points to bring Hudson back, tying the set at 16-16, 19-19 and 22-22.
Mummey then put Hudson on top with a block and led the Explorers into a tiebreaker with three spikes before Mackay won the set with another block.
Jackson’s 8-1 lead had been extinguished and the Polar Bears were behind 2-0. Hudson cruised from there, but it was the effective use of a timeout that refocused the Explorers.
“I said, ‘Look, Jackson’s a great team, they’re very well coached, they’re going to come back and play hard. You can’t let up,’ ” Ciborek said. “We got flustered there. We weren’t passing the ball, we weren’t able to run our offense.
“We were complacent with what was going on.”
Mummey said it’s the friendship among the captains and through the entire team that’s allowed Hudson to make an unprecedented run through the state tournament.
“Honestly, it’s team chemistry,” Mummey said. “I’ve never been on a team before where everyone works so well together. We have so much heart and we played that way.”
The Explorers will face Mount Notre Dame, a Cincinnati school known for volleyball excellence. So Hudson will keep its underdog tag, just as the Explorers like.
“I’m so happy we’re walking into the last two games as underdogs,” Cristofoli said. “The other teams have made it, this is our first time making it. I know we’re going to get out there and shock the state.”
Jackson was led by sophomore Brooke Bailey, who had a team-high 13 kills. Seniors Stephanie Spencer and Jen Slogar added 11 kills each.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.