FELICITY – Though they finished with a losing record, the Felicity-Franklin High School volleyball made a Division IV tournament run for a third straight year.
Again, the Lady Cardinals won their opening postseason games before falling in the third contest.
Last season, the 17-9 team advanced to the district level at Troy before losing to Jackson Center. This season, after wins over Gamble Montessori and New Miami, coach Damon Smith’s girls fell in three sets in the sectional final at Mariemont to Miami Valley Christian Academy, 25-19, 26-24, 25-13.
The season ended at 12-14 after a 9-6 start. Part of the reason was an injury to top senior, Ashley Moore.
“She turned her ankle about three weeks ago,” Smith said. “It had an effect. From then on, until tournaments we only won one game.”
The injury happened during a practice and Moore’s ankle turned black and blue in a hurry. Knowing her value to Felicity-Franklin as a basketball player (Division IV Ohio Player of the Year as a junior), Smith refused to take any chances by having her play hurt.
Without Moore, the remaining Lady Cardinals stepped up with their first wins in nearly two weeks to begin the tournament.
“I thought we’d get by the first round, then with New Miami I wasn’t sure if we’d get by them,” Smith said. “I thought we played the best we could play under the circumstances.”
Those victories put them against MVCA Oct. 24. It was the third time the Lady Cardinals had played the Lady Lions, counting a preseason exhibition. With Moore on Sept. 14, Felicity-Franklin lost in five sets 27-25, 25-19, 25-27, 16-25, 15-12. Without her over a month later, Smith’s crew played them close, but fell short in three.
“I think the outcome may have been different if we had Ashley,” Smith said. “But I thought we went out with dignity and showed a lot of character. We were the underdog and the odds were against us.”
Including Moore, departing seniors for the Lady Cardinals are Taylor Howerton, Paige Cummins and Morgan Smith. Returning players will be Lauren Mitchell, Brittney Stutz, Tia Louiso, Trinity Botkins, Grace Ann Kirkham-Hartley, Kortnie Bradburn and Ashley Wilson.
Sophomore Trinity Botkins upped her play over the season and freshman Ashley Wilson moved in up front to help in the absence of Moore. Wilson is one of Felicity-Franklin’s taller players at 5-foot-10.
“I think she’s going to be a real nice player in the future,” Smith said. “She stepped up and did a real nice job and we just kind of reloaded. We just didn’t have that player that could kill it at the net. Morgan Smith did a nice job in the tournament, but we just couldn’t finish hard.”