FAIRBORN — New Bremen (27-1) beat Monroeville 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-13 in Friday’s first D-IV state semifinal at Wright State to set up today’s 3 p.m. state championship match against neighboring school district Fort Loramie.
It’s the first real test the squad has faced during this tournament run, but far from the first it has faced the last three years during state runs. The squad, which won a state championship in 2017, beat Monroeville 3-2 in a semifinal last year before losing to Tiffin Calvert 3-2 in a state final.
Monroeville took a two-point lead late in the fifth game, but the Cardinals scored three straight points and never trailed again.
“We sometimes seem to like to dig holes for ourselves,” New Bremen coach Diana Kramer said of batting back. “It happens when you play volleyball, when good teams play volleyball. The thing is, these girls know it’s all about finding a way to go on that next run.”
The Cardinals have beaten familiar opponents so far this postseason. Aside from beating the Eagles on Friday, they beat Calvert in a regional final. They have also posted tournament wins against St. Henry and Minster, both of which they also beat in postseason play last year.
“Our attitude is, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side, we’re ready to go,” Kramer said.
They’ll get another familiar opponent on Saturday. The squad beat Fort Loramie 3-0 in a regional semifinal last year and also won a nonconference matchup this season 3-1.
“Bring it on,” New Bremen senior setter Claire Pape said of facing the Redskins, who defeated Newark Catholic 25-16, 27-25, 20-25, 26-24, today.
Monroeville took a 4-2 lead after an attack error by the Cardinals and a kill by Kylee Brooks, but the Cardinals battled back to tie it 5-5. The teams traded points to a 7-7 tie, then the Eagles took a 9-7 lead after a kill by Reece Kluding and a bad set by New Bremen.
The lead didn’t last, though. After the teams traded points to a 10-8 score, Monroeville committed a service error, then Taylor Paul had a kill to tie it. Macy Puthoff followed with a kill to give New Bremen an 11-10 lead, which caused the Eagles to take a timeout.
Monroeville tied it 11-11, but Puthoff had a kill on hard spike, then Ashton Heitkamp had a kill to give the Cardinals a 13-11 lead.
Brooks had a kill to narrow the gap to one, but Puthoff followed with a kill to give New Bremen a 14-12 lead. After Josie Reinhart sent a ball out of bounds on a spike, an setting error by the Eagles ended it.
Paul had a season-high 23 kills for New Bremen, including eight in the third game. She previously hadn’t had more than 15 in a match.
“She took her teammates on her back tonight,” Kramer said. “Every day, somebody different steps up. Today, it was Taylor’s day to step up, make big plays, put her teammates on her back and score big points. Tomorrow, it may be someone else.”
Puthoff had four of her 11 kills in the fifth game, three of which scored the last five points for the Cardinals.
“I kind of struggled at the beginning,” Puthoff said. “I play for my teammates and I play for my community, and that means stepping up. Making those plays late in the game, (my teammates) helped me out. They were the reason I was able to do that.”
The teams played close early in the first set. New Bremen scored three consecutive points on aces by Reinhart to take a 10-7 lead and later extended the advantage to 15-9 on an ace by Paul.
The Eagles scored six consecutive points to tie it and later took a 22-20 lead after two consecutive kills by Lydia Landoll. After Paul had a kill and Monroeville committed an attack error to close the gap to 23-22, the Eagles responded with a kill, and New Bremen sent a ball out of bounds to end the game.
The Cardinals took control early in the second game by scoring four of five points to take a 10-6 lead. Monroeville pulled within 11-10, but the Cardinals scored the next three go extend the team lead back to four. The Eagles didn’t pull closer than three points the rest of the way.
New Bremen had an 12-11 lead in the fourth game but the Eagles battled back to tie it 23-23. Paul had a kill to put the Cardinals ahead, and the Eagles then had an attack error to end the set.
Monroeville took an early lead in the fourth set and then went on a 7-3 run to boost the advantage to 17-10. The Cardinals didn’t pull closer than four points the rest of the way.
That set up a deciding game five.
Pape led New Bremen with 43 assists. Diana Heitkamp had 13 digs, Pape had 12 and Taylor Paul had 11. Ashton Heitkamp, Kaylee Freund and Puthoff each had four block assists.
Monroeville finishes 26-2 overall.