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Hilliard Darby leads OCC after beating Davidson
April 24, 2012
By Jim Jicha
Hilliard Darby clicked on all cylinders in their April 10 match with cross-town rival Davidson and the result was a convincing 25-12, 25-14, 25-18 decision over the then undefeated host Wildcats. The victory gave the Panthers sole possession of first place in the Ohio Capital Conference Ohio Division.
“I thought we played well...it was a good team win” Darby Coach Bryan Webb said afterward. "We played most everybody”.
Darby scored first on a slam by sophomore outside Jesse Print that was blocked into the antenna. Wildcat setter/outside Matt Briskey answered with a cross-court blast. Panther 6’6” junior middle Jarrod Kelso tipped and Davidson junior blocker Cameron Hunt retied again with a block in the middle.
But after Darby outside Zach Kuebler answered that with a tip, 6’5” junior middle blocker J.B. Brinkerhoff blocked Briskey and the Panthers were in the lead for good.
Briskey countered with a cross-court blast (following a great dig by teammate 6’5” opposite Jeremy Creger), but Brinkerhoff demolished a quickset from 6’5” junior Thane Fanfulik, and Davidson obliged with two long hits. Davidson outside hitter Josh Martin intervened with a kill, but Darby advanced to 9-4 on a quickset slam by Stephen Yeager and an ace from Fanfulik.
After point trading to 11-7, Kelso sparked a three-point Panther spurt with two block kills, and he teamed with Brinkerhoff on a five-point spurt to 19-8. The latter was served by Kuebler, who eventually ended the game with a block on the left.
Davidson scored first in game two, but Panther 6’4” junior right side Nic Baker tied it with a kill and Darby surged to 4-1 on another slam by Baker and a block from Kelso.
The Panthers demonstrated their scoring versatility as they opened up leads of 6-2, 10-3 and 14-4 behind blocking of Fanfulik, Stephen Yeager and Brinkerhoff. On one volley Fanfulik was forced to dig and libero Cory Fitzsimmons set Baker for a slam. Two volleys hence Fanfulik and Yeager dove to keep a spike in play, and their efforts came to fruition with a long hit by the Wildcats.
Davidson closed to 14-8 thanks to three errors and a kill by outside hitter Matt Snyder. But Fanfulik ended that with quickset to Yeager who popped into right middle. Darby’s ensuing serve was in the net and Davidson might have crept closer, but Fanfulik converted a poor receive into a hittable ball and Yeager found another hole. Baker and Kelso double blocked to up the lead to 17-9.
The Wildcats were not through, however. Snyder added another kill, and he followed a Darby hitting error with a block on Print. With that Darby Coach Bryan Webb called timeout, and while it was difficult to make out what he was saying it was clear that he was not pleased.
Afterward Webb said of the timeout “In certain situations we need to push and I didn’t feel we were playing our best”, adding “that was unacceptable”.
Briskey followed the timeout with a booming block kill on the right that cut the margin to 17-13. Kelso, however, abruptly ended the rally with a quickset tip to right back. After a double hit by Davidson, Brisker stuff blocked on the right as Kuebler served the Panthers right up to game point. One Davidson point later Fanfulik ended it with a block on a play at the net.
The teams traded errors and leads in the next frame, with Davidson in front 3-2 on a kill by outside hitter Josh Martin, and again at 6-5 after a termination by Snyder. Darby knotted it at seven courtesy of two net serves, the second coming after another termination by Snyder.
Then Fanfulik and Eric Bowman double blocked the Panthers ahead, and the Darby floodgates opened as Brinkerhoff streaked a cross-court kill off a touch, Bowman hammered a straight down slam, and Fitzsimmons dished up an ace. Fanfulik scored two solo blocks and Brinkerhoff hammered another kill (after Baker dug a net skipper off the floor), and the Panthers were up 15-7.
Snyder finally ended the run but Brinkerhoff answered with a kill and Fanfulik upped the lead to 17-8 with an ace. Brisker blocked and aced to pace a 5-1 Davidson run, but Darby freshman Clay Schmidt spiked two kills and Fanfulik scored two more blocks to advance the Panthers to 23-16. With the score 23-18, Fanfulik demolished a set from Baker and Bowman ended it with a block that was dug into the ceiling.