WELLSBURG - It's a tough road to win a championship.
The Steubenville Catholic Central Crusaders traveled that road for the second straight year by knocking off Bridgeport in the semifinals, and then Frontier in the finals to claim the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 2A volleyball championship Saturday at the Brooke Wellness Center.
"It means everything (to win back-to-back OVAC title)," said Central senior Rachel Antonelli.
The Steubenville Catholic Central volleyball team won the OVAC Class 2A championship for the second year in a row.
-- Fred Younce
"We worked hard for this and I'm so proud of everyone.
"It was amazing winning today. This whole year with this team has been amazing."
Added first-year Central head coach Renee Silvidi, "It feels great to win win with this group of girls and be part of their second championship in a row.
"I'm just so proud of them. They did a really good job."
The Crusaders were taken a full three sets in the finals by a game Frontier squad. After claiming a 25-22 first set, Central found themselves on the short end of a 25-15 second set that put momentum squarely on the Cougars side of the net.
"I just tried to keep encouraging them," said Silvidi. "I just tried to keep them on task and let them know they are capable of doing this.
"They were here for a reason, that they played well enough to be here, and they just needed do the things they needed to do. To take all the things we've done all season and try to turn the match back around."
And turn the match the Crusaders did. After falling down 2-0 early, the Crusaders quickly came back to take a 4-3 lead and held the lead the rest of the way to a 25-18 set three victory and the chance to hoist the OVAC trophy.
"When we play as a team I think we're capable of playing with any team," said Silvidi. "We just tried not to make mistakes to help our opponents, and weren't really worrying about what they were doing.
"We knew they would be a good team, so we just wanted to come out and give it our best. We did that and were able to win the OVAC title."
Maddy Gulan was a force at the net for the Crusaders in the finals tallying 10 blocks. She also added five points and two aces with her serve. Setters Robyn Runkel and Jenna Ogden had 10 and nine assists respectively. Runkel added three points and six digs.
Monica Rigaud and Rachel Antonelli each had eight kills with Monica Fischer adding seven. Fischer also chipped in six blocks and two points with Antonelli tallying two blocks. Kamy Belardine shipped in two points and four kills.
The Crusaders made short work of Bridgeport 25-8, 25-19 in the semifinals.
Rachel Antonelli had two kills and eight digs; Jenna Ogden had eight points, four assists, and three digs; Rachel Rigaud had three kills; Kamy Belardine had two kills and nine digs; Monica Fischer had two points, four kills, and eight digs; Maddy Gulan 11 points, five aces, and three digs; Monica Rigaud had seven kills; and Robyn Runkel had six points, eight assists, and six digs.
Frontier reached the finals by defeating Clay-Battelle 25-12, 25-13 in the other semifinal.