‘Tears of happiness’: Badin volleyball reaches regional final with first win over Fenwick

VANDALIA – They group hugged. They fell into a pile on the floor. Then they ran into the locker room and really let loose.

“Complete insanity,” Badin girls volleyball coach Anitra Brockman said of those private minutes meant only for the team. “There were tears of happiness.”

Then the Rams ran back to the floor at Butler High School and celebrated with their fans. They had just upset unbeaten Fenwick in a five-set emotional rollercoaster in the Division II regional semifinals.

“We’ve never beaten Fenwick in Badin volleyball history and we’ve never been to a regional final,” Brockman said. “So we’ve had a lot to celebrate these past three, four games.”

Yes, she said never twice.

And for these unheardof achievements, the Rams will face former GCL member Roger Bacon (19-6) in the regional final at noon Saturday at Butler. Bacon, a three-set winner over Wyoming in the first semifinal, defeated Badin in three close sets late in the regular season.

“We’re going to have to elevate our game because they’ve got weapons,” Brockman said.

In the Fenwick locker room, coach Tyler Conley faced the difficult task of trying to find the right words.

“It’s never easy, especially with a great group like that,” he said. “It was hard that we lost, but ultimately Badin played better than us in three sets. We’ve said all year if a team beats us a team beats us. We’ve got to be able to live with that if we lay it all on the floor. I can’t fault our effort.”

Fenwick (26-1) defeated Badin (17-9) in five sets and four sets in their two GCL matches this season. The Rams came out serving aggressively and won the first two sets Thursday 25-22 and 25-16. Then Fenwick rallied to win the third set 25-16.

The fourth set was back and forth until Fenwick led 19-15. But Badin went on a 9-2 run for a 24-21 lead. But an out-of-bounds Badin serve put the serve in the hands of Fenwick freshman Sophia Arends, the team’s best server. Consecutive aces put Fenwick up 25-24, and a tip by Kate Hafer won the set for the Falcons.

“We told them not to stop,” Conley said. “And they never stopped.”

Unable to finish off the Falcons in the fourth set with three match points, Brockman remained calm.

“We could tell the girls were a little rattled,” she said. “They’ve never been here before. I felt like the pressure was on us at the point. Once we went to the fifth set, I told them to erase everything that happened to that point and start like it’s a brand-new game. And they did.”

Junior outside hitter Alyvia Hegemann said the fifth set was for the three seniors and injured setter Lauren Trusock.

“It was a little scary, but it was, ‘We’re going to win this. We’re not going home today,’” Hegemann said. “‘We’re moving on for them.’”

Badin ran off the last four points to win the final set 15-10.

“Up until 15-10 I thought the same thing was going to happen,” Conley said.

Instead of a repeat of the fourth set, Conley’s high-achieving senior class saw their high school careers end. Hafer, Payton Deidesheimer, Sami Deidesheimer, Julia Grandstaff, Gracie Schmitt and Caroline Hensley finished with a state championship in 2019, over 90 victories and four league titles.

“It’s been a great run and I’m really, really proud of the legacy they left for us,” Conley said. “The last time we felt disappointment like this we bounced back and went all the way. That was our ultimate goal.”

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