Girls Volleyball

Fairfield, Hamilton, CCS girls volleyball advance in postseason

WEST CHESTER TWP. — When Carmyn Pryor sent the game-winning kill across the net, Leanna Lawson was ready to pounce in celebration with her senior teammate and the rest of the Fairfield High School girls volleyball team. 

The 18th-seeded Indians rallied in the fourth and fifth sets to knock off the 12th-seeded Talawanda Brave 3-2 on Monday night in a Division I sectional opener at Lakota West. 

“We’re a very loving team. We love to get excited,” Lawson said. “We all play for each other, and we really honored our seniors in that game. I was playing for my senior friends. 

“My thought process throughout the game was that every point doesn’t matter — just move on to the next because I know that every point could have been my last,” Lawson added. “I’m just very grateful that it’s not.” 

Fairfield (14-9) has won five out of its last six and moves on to face No. 23 Walnut Hills (4-18) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Lakota West.

“We’re very excited to see what they bring,” Lawson said of facing Walnut Hills, which has lost seven straight and 16 out of its last 17. “Hopefully, we’re ready for it. We were ready for today. We came out, everybody showed out, and I’m really proud of my team. We know how to pick it up if we need to, and I’m really proud of that.” 

Talawanda (18-5), which started the season out by winning its first nine games, graduates six seniors — Emma Puckett, Zoe Smith, Myah Keene, Leah Noga, Rose Bothast-Revalee and Hanna Vocke.   

The Indians won seven straight against the Brave heading into the 2023 season, but Talawanda knocked off Fairfield 3-0 back on Sept. 5 to snap the losing streak. 

“We are not the most talented team on paper. But we’re a deep team, and we’re a hardworking team,” Indians coach Jessi Grimes said. “That’s been their story. It’s a good feeling that when you’re in a coaching position that you can trust that there’s still hope — there’s still light at the end of the tunnel. 

“We may not have the natural talent, but we have a hardworking team. They are smart and they can make adjustments.”

Grimes praised the efforts of Talawanda, which had its best season since 2016 when it went 20-4. 

“(Talawanda coach) Ruchelle (Dunwoody) is a great coach and a smart coach,” Grimes said. “So I knew that if we were going to win, we had to be smart and we had to be precise. We definitely made our adjustments on offense and defense to accommodate to her great season.” 

Pryor (12 kills), Lawson (18 kills, 22 digs), Kendall Kupper (42 digs) and Kennedy Ostendorf (31 assists, 12 digs, seven aces, seven kills) led the charge for Fairfield, which fell in the first and third sets (25-17, 25-20) and rallied to win the second, fourth and fifth (25-18, 25-23, 15-12).


Hamilton coach Dwayne Stacy said the win wasn’t the prettiest, but his Big Blue will take it. 

Hamilton swept Edgewood 25-23, 25-8, 25-19 in the opening Division I sectional match at Lakota West on Monday.

“The team we showed up with tonight was not prepared to play as well as we have been all season,” Stacy said. “We had beaten them earlier in the season, so that’s a tough thing to overcome for high school girls to stay disciplined enough to say, ‘You know what? They’re undefeated now.’ So we have to go out there and play aggressive. That didn’t happen tonight. We let down a little bit. We did not play our best game. There was a lot of miscommunication up at the net.” 

The Big Blue (13-10) move on to face No. 1 Kings on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Lakota West. The Cougars finish 3-19 and graduate four seniors — Emily Campbell, Kennedi Kimberlin, Grace Miller and Katelyn Wilson.

“My hope is that if teams were scouting us tonight, I hope they’ll think that it won’t be much of a challenge,” Stacy said. “They didn’t get a chance to see us play, which is a beautiful thing. We’re hoping it will pay dividends in a back-door type of a way. 

“The girls are happy,” Stacy added. “They set their goals to have X number of wins this year, they did that. They wanted to be in a certain spot in the GMC, they did that. They want to make the third round of the tournament, here we go. Let’s not stop with two out of the three. Why not have the upset of the year?” 

Maci Pennington, who leads the Greater Miami Conference with 73 aces, said the Big Blue are looking to clean a couple things up before going up against the Knights.

“This was definitely not how we usually play,” Pennington said. “We talked about it all year about respecting your opponent and playing at your best and not going down to their level, which is what we did this game.

“We’re very excited. They’re the No. 1 seed, but it’s going to be a fun game I think,” Pennington added of Kings. “I like playing teams that are technically better than us. It makes me want to play better, personally.”

Hamilton is enjoying its first winning season since 2012, when the Big Blue finished 14-10.

“We’ve definitely been more positive this year than the last few years with the culture, the ups and downs and not being as consistent,” Pennington said. “But since the season has gone on, we’ve gotten a lot better with our consistency. We’re a young team with lots of sophomores and only three seniors. We’re taking our leadership and running with it.”

Pennington (30 assists), Maddie Bladen (20 digs) and Emili Schappacher (nine kills) led the way for the Big Blue. 


No. 1 seed Cincinnati Christian defeated No. 10 Felicity-Franklin 3-0 in a Division IV sectional opener at MVCA on Monday. 

The Cougars (16-7) move on to face No. 9 Legacy Christian on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at MVCA. CCS has won four in a row and six out of its last seven. 

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