From the time the Division 3 volleyball tournament brackets were unveiled, the sectional final match between Patriot Athletic Conference foes Oberlin and Columbia was both expected and anticipated.
The teams each held serve on their home court this season, setting up this tourney battle as the rubber match for the season series.
While the Phoenix played well in spurts and performed well defensively, it was not enough to overcome a consistently strong effort from the Raiders, who claimed a 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-15) win and moved on to the district tournament.
The Phoenix close their season at (11-13, 7-9 PAC).
To reach the sectional finals, the Phoenix faced off against Lutheran East in the semifinal. Playing before a largely pro-Oberlin crowd at Elyria, the sixth-seeded Phoenix easily outdistanced the Falcons 3-0 (25-11, 25-5, 25-13) behind strong hitting and serving from Lauren Sands and Karissa Rankin.
As the young Phoenix head to the off-season, the team is already planning for various workouts, Junior Olympics play, team camps, and second sports.
Coach Sharhonda Rankin was upbeat on the look ahead.
“We have everyone coming back,” she said. “We’ve got a few things to work on to be sure, but with another year of experience, some serious off-season workouts, and camps, I believe we’ll be a tough out next year.”