FAIRBORN — Tiffin Calvert coach Lori Rombach said New Bremen is more mature. New Bremen coach Diana Kramer said the squad is more businesslike.
Whatever the best adjective, there is one descriptor that is fact: the Cardinals are back-to-back state champions.
New Bremen won its second consecutive state title by beating Calvert 25-22, 26-28, 25-22, 25-16 in the Div. IV state final on Saturday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center. It’s the program’s fourth state title since 2017.
“We talked about this early on, way back in March, and then this summer it got really real,” Kramer said. “We talked about what it took to repeat and go back-to-back. For it to actually become a reality, I think I have to pinch myself, because it’s crazy.
“This team, everybody has seen our games, but nobody has seen behind closed doors, what this team has gone through off the court, the adversity they’ve faced day in and day out. Our motto this year overcome, overtake, overpower. It was so perfect for this team, because we had highs and lows. I’m just so proud of these girls.”
New Bremen and Tiffin Calvert have been battling as the best Division IV programs in Ohio for the last six years. The Cardinals have an advantage after Saturday, as they’ve won four state titles since 2017. Calvert has won twice since 2018.
It’s the third time since 2018 the squads have faced off in state finals and the fourth time they’ve faced in deep in tournament play. Calvert beat New Bremen in D-IV state finals in 2018 and 2020; the Cardinals won in a regional final matchup in 2019.
Both coaches said they don’t expect the postseason matchups to end anytime soon.
“I look forward to the rivalry in the future,” Kramer said.
Calvert struggled to keep up on Saturday. New Bremen built solid leads in the first and third games before the Senecas made late pushes. New Bremen built an eight-point lead midway through the fourth game, then scored the last eight points to earn the win.
“I think they seemed more mature,” Rombach said of previous matchups. “… When we played them in ‘18 and ‘20, I think we were a little more successful in our runs with them. They didn’t have as many slumps as I’ve seen in past years. They seemed little more balanced, if I’m being honest. They had had a little more balanced offense.”
New Bremen will lose three seniors to graduation, including Olivia Heitkamp, a Toledo signee who was a first team all-Ohio selection in Div. IV. The squad will also lose outside hitters Amelia Dammeyer and Alivia Dammeyer.
Heitkamp led the squad with 20 kills and had four block assists and 14 digs. Amelia Dammeyer had 10 kills and 17 digs and Alivia Dammeyer had six kills and 16 digs.
Ava Trentman made eight kills and Mary Rindler and Melina Schrader each made seven. Schrader, a junior setter who has verbally committed to the University of Dayton and was also first team all-state, played through an ankle injury. She had 40 assists.
“They are businesslike,” Kramer said. “This team, more than any other team I’ve coached, is so businesslike. They were so literal about everything I’ve said.”
New Bremen pulled out to a 12-7 lead in the first game and then took a 16-9 lead after an ace by Keira Steininger. The Cardinals pushed their lead as high as eight points before the Senecas fought back late. Calvert scored seven of eight points to pull within 23-20, but the Cardinals held on to win by three, with Heitkamp making the match point on a kill on a hard spike.
The squads were tied 11 times and traded leads four times in the second game, but the Senecas finally pulled it out by scoring the last two points after a 26-26 tie. Alli Porter made a kill, then an attack error by Heitkamp ended the game.
“A lot of teams would crumble (in that situation),” Kramer said. “… They found a way to put pressure on us. We made a few mistakes, they earned a couple points, and all of a sudden, it’s a brand new ball game.
“… This team found a way to look each other in the eye and said, ‘This is our day. This is about us, not what they are doing, what we do.’”
New Bremen built a 10-3 lead in the third game and later pushed its lead to 17-9, but Calvert again stormed back. The Senecas scored four straight points to pull within 23-22, but a service error and a kill by Heitkamp ended the game.
The teams traded points early in the fourth game, but New Bremen scored seven in a row to take a 15-7 lead. Calvert pulled within 18-16, but the Cardinals scored the last eight points to earn the win, with Heitkamp making five kills during the stretch.
New Bremen beat Sarahsville Shenandoah 25-12, 25-14, 20-25, 25-19 in a semifinal on Friday. Heitkamp had 24 kills, Amelia Dammeyer had 12 kills and 11 digs and Trentman had nine kills.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.