The Indians knocked off Ashtabula Sts. John & amp; Paul and will meet Buckeye Central.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUDSON -- Over the course of coaching volleyball 28 seasons at Southern Local High, Deborah Boyd told her players maybe a billion times not to give up on the ball.
They finally listened and the Indians are going to the Division IV regional final.
Southern finished both games with impressive spurts to eliminate Ashtabula Sts. John & amp; Paul 15-12, 15-9 Thursday at Hudson High School.
The Indians (18-5) will meet New Washington Buckeye Central for the regional championship Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Heralds (21-6) took an early 5-0 lead in the first game, but the Indians tied it at 5 when Lindsey Phillipson blocked a spike.
"We never give up on ourselves," Southern senior middle blocker Kristen Thomas said. "There's a lot of times this season we came out slow.
"We've always pulled together and we've always come out of it."
Sts. John & amp; Paul still led 12-8 when Lacey Dangelo began to serve for Southern. Aided by a Phillipson spike that produced the 14th point, Dangelo finished the game serving the final seven points.
Crucial point: The crucial point of the game came with the score tied at 12 and the Heralds returning from a timeout.
A return by Phillipson went into the net and appeared to give the ball to Sts. John & amp; Paul for a side-out. Junior Carrie Kurpely of Southern played the ball off the net and set up senior Cassie Lewis for a spike and point.
"I hit the ball into the net and Carrie digged it out and Cassie put it over for the point," Phillipson said. "They weren't ready for that and that just took them right off guard."
The Heralds were caught napping and never recovered.
"She did very good. We were all surprised. She saved me," Phillipson said of the play by Kurpely.
"That was a big momentum booster," Boyd said. "It was like, wow, who pulled that out?
"They thought they had the point and we kept playing the ball," Boyd added. "And that's good defense. They're not set defensively if they think they have the point."
The Indians led the second game 3-0 but due to five service errors, Southern saw the score tied at 9.
Phillipson, one of six senior starters, served the final five points to put the Indians into the regional final for the first time since 1978.
Deanna Sell and Dangelo each had six assists to lead the Indians, while Dangelo added 29 sets and Thomas had 19 attacks.
"The last timeout she took in the first game, I just told them, 'We're not giving the ball back. We're just going to serve it out right now,' and they did," Boyd said.
"Same thing in the second game," she said. "Lindsey was serving and I said, 'Come on, we're not giving the ball back; we're going to serve it out,' and they did."
Equals previous best: Boyd saw her 1978 team lose in the regional final and her 1991 squad bow in the regional semifinal. She likes to tell her current players about those two special teams but knows Southern has never been to the state tournament.
This group of seniors has been playing together since seventh grade and just one match separates Boyd from going to the state for the first time.
"I always have teams I talk about," Boyd said. "This will be the team I talk about to the future people who play."