FAIRBORN — New Bremen’s wait is over. The Cardinals won the Division IV state volleyball championship on Saturday at Wright State’s Nutter Center, which is the school’s first state title in any sport.
After two slow starts in its last two tournament games, the Cardinals had a dominating performance in a 25-9 victory in the first set against St. Thomas Aquinas. New Bremen won the last two sets 25-18 and 25-20 to win the match.
“We played well today,” New Bremen coach Diana Kramer said. “I’m very, very proud of them. …We’ve been playing in ‘we can’t lose’ situations since we lost to Fort Recovery in September. So we were ready, we were prepared. I was extremely confident coming into this match. We knew we were playing an extremely well-coached and disciplined opponent with some great athletes, but we were just better today, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
After September’s loss to Fort Recovery, the Cardinals won 20 consecutive matches, including Saturday’s match. Aquinas had led only twice in the second set (3-2 and 4-3) and twice in the third set (4-3 and 6-5).
After the Cardinals scored the winning point, the team stormed the court as thousands of New Bremen fans in the stands cheered.
“When you look up at the crowd, you see the entire side is just packed,” Kramer said. “The entire town is here. The entire town’s been behind us the entire season. And then with Coldwater and Versailles playing after us (in the Div. III title game), every one in the MAC is here. That’s kind of comradery we have.”
New Bremen lost the first set in a regional final against Fort Loramie and a first set in Thursday’s state semifinal. New Bremen senior Paige Jones said the team wanted to avoid a slow start Saturday.
“On the bus, we were talking about how the nerves have left where we’re at,” Jones said. “It was the beginning of the bus ride we were like, ‘Alright, the nerves stop here.’ We knew that if we came out nervous, it would be like against Fort Loramie and the team we played on Thursday. We knew if we played our game, we’re hard to beat. And we knew the nerves held it back.”
Jones led the Cardinals with 25 kills, while Rachel Kremer had seven and Julia Goettemoeller had six. Abbi Thieman led the team with 11 digs and 20 assists, and Jones and Taylor Paul each had three aces.
Goettemoeller had three of New Bremen’s first five kills, which she said helped the team’s confidence.
“I think it helps us when we know that we have other hitters, and when the other team knows we have hitters,” Goettemoeller said. “… Everyone was doing so good today, I think that definitely shakes their nerves a little bit and lets them know that there are other people here that are ready to go.”
New Bremen was the last of the ten Midwest Athletic Conference member schools (including Anna in football) to win a state title. After New Bremen and Versailles’ volleyball titles on Saturday, 124 MAC teams have won state titles.
New Bremen finished with a 28-1 overall record. The team will return all but three seniors next year: Jones, Goettemoeller and Springer.
Jones is verbally committed to Michigan and is scheduled to sign a letter of intent with the university on Monday. She finished with 656 kills this season.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.