STOW — The last time the Hudson girls volleyball team had a winning record, it reached the Sweet Sixteen.
The Explorers had a chance to repeat their 2014 magic on Saturday at Stow-Munroe Falls High School’s James G. Tyree Gymnasium.
But it was not to be.
Top-seeded Hudson’s stellar 2019 season came to an end after losing to second-seeded Akron Archbishop Hoban 25-20, 25-11, 25-27, 25-16 in the Stow district final.
The Explorers, who defeated the Knights in sectional play last year, finished 18-7 this fall. It was Hudson’s first winning season since its last regional appearance in 2014. The Explorers also reached the Stow district final for the first time since 2015.
"I want to say congratulations to Archbishop Hoban," Hudson head coach Brad Disandis said. "They played very well. We just could not seem to find a way to put balls on the floor and attack effectively. As a team, we hit 4.4 percent. We have never seen numbers like that all year.
"Once again, we showed our true heart and determination and put some pressure on them in the third set and won that set."
When it came time for the Knights to collect the district championship trophy, senior captains Jacquie Roberts, Molly Strah, Maddie Wentz and Liv Hopkins stepped forward and raised the hardware up in the air.
Wentz had seven kills and two blocks and the 5-foot-11 Hopkins contributed six kills and six blocks for Hoban (19-6). The 6-foot Roberts contributed seven blocks and six kills and Strah finished with 28 digs.
Leading the way in the front row for Hoban was 5-10 junior Kara Zaucha, who had 12 kills.
Juniors Sarah Leyden (23 assists) and Sophia Grdina (three aces) also figured prominently for the Knights.
Hudson (18-7) will look to reload next year after the graduation of seniors Amelia Hoffmeier, Ciera Kent and Cailynn Sullivan, who suffered a broken tibia last month.
Hoffmeier finished with 35 digs and seven service points. Junior Brooke Ramlow had 21 digs, 13 assists and six kills and sophomore Page Gross contributed seven kills, four digs and two blocks.
Also faring well for the Explorers were junior Morgan Gaeta (15 digs, six kills and a block); sophomores Erica Kutchin (four kills and two digs), Ella Beard (two blocks), Anna Faust (12 digs and eight service points) and Allyson Yanak (five kills and a block); and freshmen Rylyn Dearstine (four blocks and two kills) and Melissa Hensen (19 assists and six digs).
"This was a great season," Disandis said. "This is one of the most incredible group of girls I have ever coached.
"They have altered the course of our culture and put Hudson volleyball back on the map. We watched this young and talented group grow up before our very eyes.
"Although we sadly say goodbye to three tremendous young women, we look to the future and the bright young stars that emerged from this season. What a truly amazing season, finishing 18-7. I love this team and already cannot wait to get back in the gym with them next year."