NEW CARLISLE – Graham powered past Kenton Ridge in the first two sets, but the Cougars came storming back for a 22-25, 16-25, 25-20, 30-28, 16-14 victory Monday night to win the Division II volleyball sectional at Tecumseh and advance to the district tournament.
“We prepared really well for them. It was just a few miscues on execution on a couple of plays,” Graham Coach Gaye Roebuck-Carafa said.
In the first set, Graham gave up an early lead midway through the set and had Kenton Ridge take a 17-15 lead. The Falcons fought back to tie things at 22-22 before pulling away for the 25-22 victory.
In the second, a back-and-forth battle found the teams tied until Graham scored a few close points and took a commanding lead at 18-10 before the Cougars were able to score a couple. However, Graham cruised to the 25-16 set final.
The third set was another close one, this time throughout the competition. Kenton Ridge held a late 21-18 lead before pulling away to a 25-20 margin and keeping the match alive.
The fourth set saw Graham cruise out to a 5-0 lead before Kenton Ridge came back to tie the score. The set was a tense, back-and-forth battle from there to the end. Graham erased a small deficit at the end of the set to tie it 22-22, then 24-24. Kenton Ridge took the advantage before Graham tied it and had three advantages in a row before the Cougars took the lead back at 29-28.
Carafa had a strategy to keep her kids in the game after the three advantages didn’t turn into wins.
“Keep them calm, keep them level-headed and focused on the next ball,” she said. “Lots of deep breaths, lots of focusing, lots of visualizing.”
Kenton Ridge put it away when a diving Falcon was unable to make a play on the ball for the final point in a thrilling set.
The fifth and deciding set saw the Cougars jump out to a 4-1 lead before relinquishing ground. Graham tied the set at 8-8 before taking the lead at 12-10. The score was tied at 13-13 and 14-14 before Kenton Ridge finished the set off for a dramatic comeback win.
Lisa DeWeese had an outstanding match for Graham, tallying 22 kills and 3 aces. Carly Carafa had 16 kills and 2 aces, Kaitlyn Trace had 9 kills and 2 blocks and Molly Hamilton had 3 aces, 2 kills and 2 blocks.
Kenton Ridge advances to play Fenwick at Trent Arena in Kettering on Saturday at 3 p.m.
WL-S girls advance
West Liberty-Salem defeated Northwestern, 4-1, in the girls soccer sectional on Monday.
Goals for WL-S were scored by Gabby Hollar (2), Annika Wolfe and Madison Oelker.
Wolfe also added an assist.
Paige Shafer had 4 saves in goal.
WL-S (17-1) plays again Thursday at Sidney at 7 p.m.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.