CLAYTON — New Bremen’s volleyball team started a quest after a three-set loss to Jackson Center in a Division IV regional final last year. The team inched closer to completing the journey on Saturday at Northmont’s Thunderdome.
New Bremen got off to a slow start in a Division IV regional final volleyball match, but any possible worries of another letdown by the Cardinals’ large contingent of fans were quickly eased.
The Cardinals beat Fort Loramie 3-1 on Saturday to earn the first state semifinal berth in school history.
New Bremen (25-1) will face Buckeye Central in a state semifinal on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Wright State’s Nutter Center. Buckeye Central beat Carey played in a regional final on Saturday at Elida.
“When I took this job, I took the girls and looked them in the eyes and said, ‘We will make it to state, and I plan to do it in the very near future.’ The fact that we found a way shows how these girls have worked,” New Bremen coach Diana Kramer said. “These girls deserve this. We finally accomplished to goal.
“And I’m going to remind them that our goal isn’t just to make it to state, it’s to win state. We just moved another inch closer.”
Fort Loramie won the first set 25-19 and took a lead midway through the second. New Bremen battled back to win the second 25-20 and then won the next two 25-13 and 25-17.
Senior middle hitter Paige Jones, who is verbally committed to Michigan, came up big again for the Cardinals with 27 kills.
“Last year, we were young and inexperienced, so coming in, we had a super-high nerves and people weren’t ready to play,” Jones said. “… This year, we knew that we needed to come in calm and be ready to play our game.”
Anyone who’s seen New Bremen in the last few seasons knows Jones is going to get a lot of kills. That hasn’t stopped a few teams from beating Bremen, and it didn’t stop Fort Loramie from winning the first set.
The teams battled to an 11-11 start in the first set, but Loramie went on a 9-2 run to take the lead. The Redskins built a 24-15 lead, and New Bremen scored four consecutive points before the match ended when a serve went into the net.
Loramie and New Bremen again battled to an 11-11 tie in the second set. After the Redskins took a 14-13 lead, the Cardinals went on a 6-3 run that was capped off by a kill by Claire Pape. Fort Loramie called a timeout, but New Bremen scored the next point to extend the lead to three.
The Redskins battled back to tie it 20-20, but New Bremen took a lead after a Loramie serve went into the net. The Cardinals scored the next four points to finish the 25-20 win, with the last point coming on a kill by Jones.
“The thing that sticks out to me is, the first set, we didn’t have any aces,” Kramer said. “Once the middle of the second start started until the end of the game, I’m guessing we had 10 to 15 aces. That was the difference.”
Jones served at the start of game three as New Bremen built a 5-0 lead. Loramie came as close as 11-9, but New Bremen scored six of the next seven points to take control.
New Bremen went on a 5-2 run in the fourth set to take a 14-11 lead. The Cardinals then scored six of the next nine to put the game away.
“In between games, we just sat there and talked about how we made most of the mistakes, and we talked about how if we limited the mistakes, that we’d be fine,” Jones said. “We talked about how we were in this position last year, and all we need to do is take a deep breath and relax.”
Kenzie Hoelscher had eight kills for Fort Loramie, while Chole Stang had seven and Marissa Meiring and Abby Holthaus had four each. Sophia Albers had 21 assists and 15 digs, while Chole Stang had 12 digs. Hoelscher had four assisted blocks and one solo block.
The Redskins finish with a 17-11 overall record.
“They’ve got nothing to hang their heads about,” Fort Loramie coach John Rodgers said. “Not one thing. They battled hard today, right to the last point. I told them, sometimes in life, it just doesn’t go their way. But their work ethic will carry them a lot farther down the road.”
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.