Bucks take on Cardinals in state semifinal

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Buckeye Central players react to winning the Division IV regional final match against Carey Saturday at Elida.

Buckeye Central has made runs to state before, the most recent coming in 2012.

But none of the players on the current team were part of that run.

Neither was their coach, Jackie Nye. So today, when the Bucks travel to the Nutter Center to take on New Bremen in the Division IV state semifinals, it classifies as a new experience.

“None of our girls have been there, it’s a new experience for everybody,” Nye said Tuesday night. “We’re trying to create pressure situations in practice.”

Pressure is always relative, but during the Bucks’ postseason run, there doesn’t appear to have been much.

The Bucks come into today’s match at 26-1. They’re only loss, which came to St. Henry Sept. 2, was at a tournament where it was best out of three games. In five postseason matches, BC has lost only two games.

As it has been for a number of years, the Bucks are led by senior Jenna Karl. Karl, a first-team all-Ohio selection, leads the team with 280 kills and 379 digs. She’s also served 37 aces.

Nye said it’s a good feeling to have a player like Karl for the match against New Bremen.

“Whenever we’re in close games, she’s definitely been one of the go-to players,” Nye said. “She always keeps a level head, and others kind of feed off that vibe.”

Karl may be the leader, but the Bucks are full of talent. Emily Stump has 256 kills, Lexi Evak has 174 kills with 49 blocks and Addie Ackerman had a Northern 10 Athletic Conference-leading 794 assists.

Standing in the way today are the Cardinals, who are undefeated and the top-ranked team in Division IV.

Nye was asked what stands out about New Bremen.

“Just what I’ve read about them, and watching film so far, they’re just a good offensive team,” she said.

That offense is led by outside hitter Paige Jones, a University of Michigan commit. She had 27 kills in the Cardinals’ regional final match against Fort Laramie Saturday. She’s coming up on 2,000 kills for her career.

But it’s not just Jones that Nye and the Bucks have to worry about.

“She’s their No. 1 hitter,” Nye said. “Other than here, there are a number of people they go to and they are really good defensively.”

Nye said to combat the Cardinals, BC needs to come out strong.

“I guess, really, come out starting the match with lots of intensity, lots of excitement,” Nye said. “In the playoff run, (we’ve) played good, consistent volleyball for the (full) match.”

Nye also said it’s important for her players to enjoy the experience.

“When you’re playing your best volleyball is when you’re having fun,” Nye said.

And Nye, a former star player at New Riegel and Heidelberg University, is having fun, too.

“It’s been awesome,” Nye said, “watching the team they’ve become last couple weeks.”

The match begins at 4 p.m. today in Dayton. It will be followed by the other Division IV semifinal match, Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas and Notre Dame.

That match is set to start at 6 p.m.