New Bremen volleyball advances to D-IV state title match

FAIRBORN -- It’s about more than the players and coaches or, even, the school – for the Cardinals, it’s about community.

And the community was out in full force Thursday to see the New Bremen Cardinals advance to the Division IV state volleyball title match with a 3-1 semifinal win over Crestview at the Wight State University Nutter Center. The two-time state champion Cardinals (2019 and 17′) topped Crestview, 25-8, 25-18, 23-25, 25-10, to move on to the title match for the fifth time since 2017.

“It means something to us and it means something to our town,” New Bremen coach Diana Kramer said. “A lot of these people had to take off work – it’s 2 o’clock on a Thursday – or take a personal day and many of them don’t even have someone on the team.”

The Cardinals put on a show early, jumping out to a quick 17-8 lead and forcing Crestview to burn its second timeout of the opening set. The stoppage of play, however, didn’t stop the Cardinals attack. Junior hitter Olivia Heitkamp paced the offense with six kills while sophomore defensive specialist Keiria Steininger drilled in four aces as New Bremen took the first set easily 25-8.

The Lady Knights were not about to back down as the first-time state qualifiers kept it close in the second set, cutting the Cardinals lead to 17-16 and forcing Kramer to call her first timeout of the match. The Cardinals responded with an 8-4 run to take a two-set lead.

But Crestview rallied in a tight must-win third set that saw seven tie scores. Sophomore outside hitter Adelyn Figley – who had managed only five kills through the first two sets – pounded in eight for the Knights in the third set to spark a 25-23 win.

“They don’t give up,” Crestview coach Tammy Gregory said of the Knights. “We knew we could play with them.”

It took only a single word from Kramer to get her Cardinals back on track – reset. It was time to refocus and reset.

“With a schedule like we play, it’s not out of the ordinary to be pushed to our limits,” Kramer said. “But these girls are going to find a way, we’re all on the same team with the same goal in mind.”

The Cardinals quickly wrestled away the momentum, jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth set and never looking back. Crestview burned its second timeout trailing 3-12 and were unable to stop the balanced Cardinals attack.

Heitkamp finished with a match-leading 22 kills and Steininger tallied seven of New Bremen’s 16 aces.

New Bremen (27-1) will face Monroeville (23-4) in the D-IV championship match on Saturday. The Eagles – making their fifth state appearance and fourth in the past five years – finally got over the semifinal hurdle with a 25-22, 25-21, 25-16 win over Newark Catholic (25-3) Thursday to advance to the finals for the first time.

“We’ve always competed here but never won, so this takes a lot of pressure off us,” Monroeville coach Kendra Snook said. “Now we just need to continue to play Eagle volleyball.”

Senior outside hitter Maddie Daniel led the Eagles offense with 20 kills, doubling the output of the Green Wave’s leading scorer Sophie Chard-Peloquin with 10.

The Division III semifinals were later Thursday.

OHSAA Girls Volleyball State Tournament

Semifinals

Friday (Division II) Noon – No. 7 Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (18-7) vs. No. 8 Belmont Union Local (27-1); 2 p.m. – No. 5 Gilmour Academy (20-8) vs. No. 2 Hamilton Badin (27-1); (Division I) 4 p.m. – No. 8 Bishop Watterson (22-6) vs. No. 1 Ursuline Academy (23-3); 6 p.m. – No. 4 Perrysburg (21-6) vs. No. 2 Magnificat (25-2).

Finals

Saturday – 11 a.m. Division IV; 1 p.m. Division III; 3 p.m. Division II; 5 p.m. Division I

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