CLAYTON — A slow start was costly for Fort Loramie in a Division IV regional final on Saturday at Northmont High School’s Thunderdome.
The Cardinals won the first two sets and fought off Fort Loramie’s rally try to earn a 25-15, 25-21, 15-25, 26-24 victory. The win earned New Bremen its sixth regional title and state berth in seven years.
New Bremen (23-4) advances to face Sarahsville Shenandoah in a D-IV state semifinal at 4 p.m. on Friday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.
The Cardinals will be trying for their fourth state title since 2017; they’ve finished as state champion or runner-up each year since with the exception of 2021, when they lost to eventual state champ New Knoxville in a district final.
“We’ve just got to be mentally tough,” New Bremen coach Diana Kramer said. “No matter who we play, no matter what time of day, no matter where we play. That’s kind of been our motto this week: it doesn’t matter who, where or when, we are locked in, we are focused. If we do us, nobody beats us.”
Fort Loramie was ranked No. 1 in D-IV in the final state coaches association poll while the Cardinals were ranked No. 2.
Fort Loramie coach John Rodgers said he was proud of how the squad fought back Saturday, but said early nerves were costly.
“These are tough athletes,” Rodgers said. “These are girls that want to battle every day. They battle like that in all three sports. This is not a volleyball-only thing. You see that when you see Loramie play, and that’s what you saw out there, girls who were tough and going after it. I’m so proud of them for that.
“… We were a little hesitant (to start), and that breeds their momentum and their enthusiasm, but then we settled down, we started getting aggressive and doing the things that we do, and from there on, it was a match.”
Fort Loramie will lose seven seniors to graduation, including Hoying, who was named the Shelby County Athletic League player of the year and was a first or second team all-league selection each the last three seasons.
“She’s a better person than she is an athlete, and that’s saying something, because she’s one incredible athlete on the court in volleyball and basketball,” Rodgers said. “She’s an even better person, and I can’t give a better compliment than that. That’s what I’ll remember about her. …I’m going to remember a person who is an incredible individual. Whatever she chooses to do in life, she’s going to be tremendous at it.”
The team will also lose Skyler Albers, Hallie Grillot, Ella Boerger, Ellen Frilling, Allyson Holland and Jaden Rose to graduation.
The group won SCAL titles and earned district titles and regional berths all four years (Fort Loramie has won 16 consecutive district finals).
“Their perseverance (stands out),” Rodgers said. “They come to practice and they come to workouts every time with the same great attitude, the same work-hard mentality. It’s not like they’re coming in and moping around; they’re never like that. They’re excited and ready to go. …I’ll remember how close they are and how much fun they are to be around.”
New Bremen took an 8-2 lead in the first set. Fort Loramie closed the gap to four at one point, but the Cardinals pushed their lead to 19-11 and pulled away further to a 10-point win.
New Bremen built a 14-8 lead in the second set to force Loramie to take a timeout. The Cardinals made three straight errors to allow Fort Loramie to pull within 15-13, but they quickly pushed the gap back to four, and the teams traded points to a 25-21 score.
The Redskins took an early lead in the third set. They built a 13-9 lead to force New Bremen into a timeout, then pushed their lead to 20-11 on the way to a 10-point win.
New Bremen scored four straight to take an 8-4 lead in the fourth set. But Fort Loramie fought back by scoring three straight to pull within 16-15, then tied it 17-17.
The Cardinals twice pushed their lead back to two, but Fort Loramie responded to tie it each time, the last at 23-23.
After the squads traded points to a 24-24 score, New Bremen scored two straight on a consecutive blocks to win it, the last on a block by Melina Schrader and Mary Rindler.
Senior outside hitter Olivia Heitkamp led the Cardinals with 25 kills and had 15 digs and four blocks. Schrader had 39 assists and three blocks, Rindler had six kills and five blocks and Ava Trentman had four blocks. Amelia Dammeyer had eight kills and Keira Steininger had 23 digs.
If victorious in Friday’s semifinal, New Bremen will face the winner of Tiffin Calvert vs. Canton Central Catholic in a state final at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Wright State.
Calvert (26-1) and New Bremen are familiar foes in tournament play. Calvert beat the Cardinals in D-IV state finals in 2018 and 2020. New Bremen beat the Senecas in a regional final in 2019 on the way to a state title.
Calvert was ranked No. 3 in the final state coaches association D-IV poll.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.