TROY – Ansonia had Cedarville on its heels multiple times, but it wasn’t enough as the Lady Tigers lost Saturday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional tournament match in straight sets.
Ansonia volleyball coach Craig Riethman said his team played great even though the Tigers came up short in Saturday’s 25-14, 25-19, 25-21 loss to seventh seeded Cedarville.
“I thought they came out and played a wonderful game,” Riethman said of his team, which was seeded 17th in the Division IV Troy sectional. “Cedarville is a very good team, and they don’t make many mistakes. And I didn’t think we did either. I thought our back row played a nice game. We had a game plan where we tried to find No. 7 (Sara Beste), make somebody else beat us, and for the most part I thought we kept her under control. I mean we didn’t stop her, but we kept her under control. We didn’t come out scared. We passed pretty well. When we had opportunities to hit we did. We had a good game at the net blocking. We fell short, but it wasn’t due to lack of focus or lack of effort.”
Cedarville’s most decisive victory of the afternoon came in the first set, which it won 25-14.
Cedarville followed that victory up with a strong start to the second set, going up 13-8 midway through the game. Ansonia wasn’t deterred, however, and cut its deficit to 19-15, which prompted Cedarville to use its first timeout. The Tigers then pulled to within 20-18, prompting Cedarville to use its second timeout, before eventually falling 25-19.
“It was great,” Riethman said. “One of our goals was to get them to call a timeout and then after that timeout get them to call another timeout, try to get some momentum points to take us into that next game. We really felt like if we could come out with a win in game three that we could do game four and game five and just take it all the way through. They tried. It just came up a little short.”
Ansonia’s momentum carried into the third set, which the Tigers led 5-2 in the early stages. Cedarville was able to capture the lead at 7-6 and then began to pull away, going up 11-7.
But once again Ansonia fought back and tied the game at 12-12. The Tigers regained the lead at 16-15, and Cedarville called a timeout.
Cedarville regrouped and retook the lead, but again called a timeout when Ansonia pulled to within 21-20. However, The Tigers couldn’t get any closer and lost the set 25-21 to end their season.
“I give a lot of credit to Bailey Stammen and Aliya Barga for kind of carrying the team and Trinity Henderson as well did a wonderful job in the back,” Riethman said. “They kept the team together, and they never really looked like they were out of it. But you know we just ran out of time.”
With Saturday’s loss Ansonia finished the season with a 7-16 record. The Tigers started the year 1-9 but played much better the second half of the season.
“We got off to a pretty slow start,” Riethman said. “(Darke County) Fair week we started out 0-5, and then we came up right out of the fair and played Miami East. It was a battle that we had to work through as a team, but I think the team grew stronger because of it.”
Saturday’s loss also ended the high school volleyball careers of Ansonia seniors Aliya Barga, Emily Bennett, Ryleigh Cloyd, Katelyn McKenna, Bailey Stammen and Leah Wilburn.
“This group of seniors that’s going through here, they’re going to make a difference in their communities,” Riethman said. “There’s a lot of potential to do some big things. I’m super excited to see what they do after graduation with their lives because I think they have good heads on their shoulders and I really do think they can make a difference.
“I’m going to miss this group of girls. There’s a lot of plays and a lot of situations even off the court that I was proud to be a part of this team.”