The second-ranked Lady Bucks take down No. 3 Damascus Christian in five sets on Friday

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Following a hard-fought, five-set win over No. 3 Damascus Christian, the Lady Bucks of No. 2 St. Paul are heading to the OSAA 1A Volleyball State Championship match Saturday against No. 5 North Douglas.Following an emotional and hotly contested semifinal win over No. 3 Damascus Christian in the OSAA 1A Volleyball State Championship tournament, second-ranked St. Paul will play in Saturday's championship match against No. 5 North Douglas. The Lady Bucks won in five sets Friday night, Nov. 5, prevailing 25-23, 19-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-11 at Ridgeview High School in Redmond.

St. Paul's Anabelle Davidson closed things out by scoring five of her 15 kills in the fifth set — including the match-winning spike that was tipped and landed just out of reach of the Damascus Christian defense.

The Lady Bucks exploded into tears of joy as the bench spilled out onto the floor following St. Paul's victory. Now, the team has a chance to earn its third consecutive OSAA 1A state championship; however, due to the cancellation of the 2020 playoffs, it will be the school's first appearance since 2019.

St. Paul jumped out to an early lead against Damascus Christian, taking the first set in what would be the closest of the five sets played all night. During that set, Stella Koch of St. Paul and Julia Mitchell of Damascus Christian traded off emphatic kills to lead their teams, including five from Koch and four from Mitchell.

Damascus Christian took the next two sets off the Lady Bucks, however, and momentum appeared to be shifting in the Eagles' favor. Koch continued to attack well throughout those sets on her way to a team-leading 21 kills. Still, the Buckaroos found themselves trailing after three sets.

As soon as the fourth set rolled around, St. Paul began playing with more urgency. The Buckaroos took leads of 10-7 and 15-9 that forced Damascus Christian to call timeouts. The Eagles were able to narrow the deficit to just two points at 19-17, but St. Paul scored six of the next nine points to force a tie-breaking fifth set.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - St. Paul junior Annabelle Davidson attacks during the fifth set of the Lady Bucks' semifinal win over No. 3 Damascus Christian on Friday night. Davidson had 15 kills, including the match-winner.In the deciding set, Damascus Christian jumped out to an early 4-1 advantage, and when they took an 8-6 lead, it forced St. Paul into a timeout. The Lady Bucks grabbed their first set lead at 10-9, forcing the Eagles to call their own timeout. After that, Davidson took over, putting the match away and sending St. Paul on for a chance to add to the school's trophy case.

St. Paul will face No. 5 North Douglas in the 1A State Championship match at 4 p.m. at Ridgeview High School in Redmond. The Warriors beat No. 8 Crane in a four-setter in the first semifinal match earlier Friday afternoon.

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