FAIRBORN -- Unfazed and united, the Coldwater Cavaliers were up to the challenge.
Coldwater topped Meadowbrook, 25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-13, in the Division III semifinals of the OHSAA State Volleyball Tournament at the Wright State University Nutter Center Thursday night. The Cavaliers last advanced to the state championship match in 2017, finishing as runner-up.
“Meadowbrook is such a great team, we knew it was going to be a battle,” Coldwater coach Nikki Etzler said. “Our girls really gritted it out.”
The Cavaliers started strong as Coldwater junior middle hitter Madison Wendel tallied seven kills and senior Jenna Leugers pounded in five aces to set the tone for the opening set against the first-time state qualifiers. But the Colts settled in under the bright lights of the Nutter Center and evened the contest at one set apiece.
Battling against talented Midwest Athletic Conference foes all season was great preparation for a hard-fought state semifinal match.
“Playing in our conference definitely raises your level of play,” Etzler said.
And raises confidence.
“We’re put in these types of situations all season,” Coldwater senior Riley Rismiller said. “It helps us so much knowing what we need to do.”
Minimizing errors and increasing their intensity, the Cavaliers took advantage of their size and balanced offense to take a 2-1 lead.
“They’re a lot bigger than us,” Meadowbrook coach Kelly Zehnder said. “They were a little more consistent late in the match and more strategic – they placed the ball well.”
The fourth set was all Cavaliers as the Colts couldn’t find an answer for the Coldwater trio of Leugers, Wendel and Morgan Blasingame who tallied 14, 14 and 13 kills, respectively, on the night.
“All the girls want the ball,” Etzler said. “Our setters are able to find the hot hand.”
Beyond the kills, the win was a total team effort.
“It’s not just one person, it’s all 12 of them,” Etzler said. “They are all in, all the time.”
Coldwater will face top-ranked Lake Catholic (26-2) in the D-III final Saturday. Lake Catholic topped Versailles, 23-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-17,Thursday. Lake Catholic – making its ninth state tournament appearance – was led by junior outside hitter Katie Sowko with a match-leading 20 kills.
The Tigers – winners of three state championship titles since 2013 – were led offensively by senior outside hitters Kirsten Bomholt and Hailey Porter with 19 and 12 kills, respectively.
OHSAA Girls Volleyball State Tournament
Saturday – 11 a.m. Division IV; 1 p.m. Division III; 3 p.m. Division II; 5 p.m. Division I