TALLMADGE — There were no real expectations for St . Vincent-St. Mary's volleyball team entering the postseason. And the Fighting Irish liked it that way.
Embracing their underdog role, the sixth-seeded Irish captured the Tallmadge Division II district championship with a 25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 17-25, 15-13 victory over host Tallmadge Saturday at James O. Maddox Court.
The outcome wasn't decided until sophomore Annie Watson — St. V-M's tallest player at 5-foot-10 — spiked home her seventh kill for a 15-13 win in a tense fifth set.
The Irish (14-12) also gained revenge against the fourth-seeded Blue Devils, who ended their season in a district semifinal match each of the last two years.
But it was yet another frustrating finish for fifth-seeded Tallmadge (19-6), which lost in the district final for the fourth consecutive season. The Blue Devils were seemingly fighting uphill all day.
"There were some things that just didn't go our way," first-year Tallmadge head coach Jim Maloof said. "At the end when we needed to finish, we just didn't finish."
St. V-M's Jaiden Dunlap, one of four seniors on the team, was strong at the net in the opening set and finished with a match-high seven blocks, adding six kills.
Junior Natalie Folatko led the Irish with 40 assists, 24 service points and six aces.
Tallmadge scored five of the last six points to take the second set and led in the third before an 8-0 run gave the Irish a 16-12 lead it maintained.
The Blue Devils fought back again to take the fourth set. The teams traded points in the fifth set until the Irish won the last two.
Senior libero Elizabeth Tavolier led the Irish with 33 digs.
Seniors Sydney Kirker and Amelia Perdue led Tallmadge with 18 kills each. Sophomore Ellie Kirker had 30 assists and junior Kelsie Horner 14 digs for the Blue Devils.
It was also the final match for seniors Katie Seeker (15 service points) and Jill Catalano.
"Very tough for the seniors," Maloof said. "I feel really bad for them. I know they really wanted it and they played their hearts out. From an effort standpoint, you can't ask for any more."