RIDGWAY — Ridgway won the opening two sets on their way to a 25-11, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19 victory over visiting Cranberry in the semifinals of the District 9 Class A playoffs Thursday.
After the Lady Elkers dominated the first set and held off the Lady Berries in the second set to pull ahead 2-0, Cranberry fought back to take the third set and send the match into a pivotal fourth set.
“They take that set we probably don’t win that match,” Ridgway head coach Josh Burrs said. “When you lose a third and fourth set after being ahead 2-0, a majority of the time you’re gonna lose that set.”
The Lady Elkers made sure a winner-take-all fifth set would not be necessary, as they pulled away late in a back-and-forth fourth set to secure the match victory.
Cranberry took the early lead in that fourth set on three service points from Ally Young, as the Lady Berries pulled in front 5-2.
Young finished with eight service points to lead the Lady Berries, while Emily Duncan and Kaylie Bruce each added six service points.
A pair of kills from Case Woodford and to service points from Lindsey Steis tied the match at 5-5, as the two sides traded the lead multiple times throughout the middle of the set.
With the Lady Berries holding a 15-14 advantage near the midway point of the set, a kill by Claire Kemick tied the set at 15 brought the serve back to Ridgway’s side of the court.
A run of four straight service points from Alyssa Kasmierski gave the Lady Elkers the lead for good at 19-15.
A kill from Erica Delullo gave Ridgway match point, as the Lady Elkers closed the match out on a kill by Claire Kemick off Brooke Thomas’ serve.
Ridgway dominated the first set behind several long service runs and strong play at the net, led by Woodford, who had six kills in the opening set.
With the set tied at 5-5 early, a kill by Woodford brought the serve back to the Ridgway side of the court.
Woodford then took to the service line and rattled off a run of five service points in a row to give the Lady Elkers a 11-5 advantage.
The run included an ace and also a kill by Delullo and put Ridgway in front for the remainder of the first set.
After losing the serve for just one point, a run of five straight service points by Thomas gave the Lady Elkers complete control of the set at 17-6.
Back-to-back kills by Woodford on Steis’ serves secured the 25-11 first-set victory for Ridgway.
“The first set we took that a little easier, but after that they gave us everything they had and that’s what we expected,” Burrs said.
The second set was much more tightly contested, as no side held a lead of more than four throughout the entire set.
After the Lady Berries took an early 4-0 lead behind three service points from Duncan, Ridgway responded with a run of five service points by Kasmierski, which included four aces, to take a 6-4 lead.
The two sides exchanged the lead throughout the middle portion of the set, as two service points from Young, won on kills by Mallia Schreck and Ava Ferringer tied the set at 20.
After a service fault gave Ridgway a 21-20 advantage, a run of three service points by Steis, which included an ace and a kill by Woodford, helped the Lady Elkers close out a 25-21 victory to take a 2-0 set advantage.
Woodford finished the match with a team-high 13 kills for Ridgway, while Delullo finished with nine kills and Kemick added seven.
Kemick also posted a match-high three blocks for the Lady Elkers in the victory.
With the third set tied at 5-5 early, a run of three service points by Bruce gave Cranberry a 8-5 advantage, a lead they would not relinquish the remainder of the set.
The Lady Berries stretched their lead to 22-13 late in the set before Ridgway came storming back.
Three straight service points by Eve Cobaugh, followed by a run of four service points from Kasmierski cut the deficit to 23-22 late in the set.
Kasmierski led all players in the match with 16 service points and six aces, while Cobaugh also finished in double figures at the service line with 10 service points.
Thomas and Steis each added nine service points apiece, as Lacie Cherry and Woodford each finished with six.
“They’re focusing on hitting their spots now instead of just going back there and serving,” Burrs said.
Cranberry responded by winning the final two points, as a kill by Schreck secured the 25-22 third-set victory.
Schreck led the Lady Berries with 13 kills, while Ferringer finished with nine and Abigail Hanna added six kills.
The match then went into the fourth set, which the Lady Elkers ended any hopes of a comeback by securing the 25-19 win to close out the match with a 3-1 victory.
Ridgway will now face second-seeded Clarion, who defeated third seed A-C Valley in the other semifinal Thursday, in the D-9 Class A title match at St. Marys Area High School Saturday at 1 p.m.
“This is what we have been competing for,” Burrs said. “This group of girls have talked about this all year long and this is where they wanted to be.”