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    Independence falls in state final

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    DAYTON–Independence’s bid for its first state title and a perfect season ended on Saturday with a 3-0 loss to Liberty-Benton in the Division III state championship match at Nutter Arena.

    The Blue Devils, who finished the year 28-1, dug a deep hole in the first set and never recovered against the bigger Eagles, who closed out the year with a 30-0 record.

    Liberty-Benton opened the first set with a 15-2 run and held off the Blue Devils to win, 25-18. The Eagles won the second and third sets, 25-21 and 25-17, to close out their second state title, both coming at the expense of Independence. The Eagles won a five-set match in the 2019 championship game.

    The matchup between the Eagles and Blue Devils was the first time two undefeated teams met in a state championship match since 2009.

    Karis Willow and Izzy Granger both recorded 15 kills in the win.

    Seniors Callie Prokopius and Hanna Wilson both finished the match with 10 kills to lead the Blue Devils. Classmates Abby Avila posted a team-high 32 assists and Macy McNamara contributed with 18 digs.

    That group of four Independence seniors closed out their careers with 103 wins, four conference titles, four sectional titles, four district titles, four regional championships, and four state runner-up finishes.

    They also kept alive Independence’s streak of 116 straight Chagrin Valley Conference wins.

    Avila etched her name into the OHSAA state tournament record back in 2019 when she recorded a state tournament-best 59 assists in a five-set loss to Liberty-Benton. She closed out her career with 283 assists in eight state Final Four matches.

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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