CLAYTON — Fort Loramie’s balanced attack has frustrated opponents at times this season. In a Division IV regional semifinal on Thursday at Northmont’s Thunderdome, the Redskins’ balance paid off again.
Fort Loramie won the first two sets against the Raiders and held on in the fourth set to earn a 3-1 win and advance to a regional final on Saturday. The Redskins will face New Bremen, which beat Jackson Center 3-0 in Thursday’s second regional semifinal.
How balanced was Fort Loramie? Four players had seven or more kills and four had 14 or more digs.
“We’ve got to spread it out,” Loramie coach John Rodgers said. “We’ve got four or five girls over 150 kills (for the season) and four or five players over 200 digs. We just spread the court and run from pin-to-pin if we can. That’s kind of our main description.”
Abby Holthaus led Fort Loramie with 12 kills while Marissa Meiring and Chloe Stang had 11 kills each. Sophia Albers had 38 assists. Stang and Emily Austin had 23 digs each and Meiring and Albers had 14 each.
Fort Loramie scored 11 of the last 16 points in the first set to earn a 25-17 win. Fort Loramie jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the second set, after which Russia never came closer than four points.
After the Redskins won the second set 25-20, Loramie took a 9-7 lead in the third set. Russia went on a big run and took a 20-14 lead, but the Redskins came back and tied it 22-22. The Raiders scored the last two points of the set to win 26-24.
After the teams battled to an 8-8 start in the fourth set, the Redskins scored four of the next five points and led until Russia battled back to tie it 24-24. This time, Fort Loramie scored the last two points to win, including a kill by freshman McKenzie Hoelscher that closed it out.
The Raiders finish 19-8 overall. It was Russia’s first regional appearance in 14 years.
“I think the moment was a little big for us,” Russia coach Aaron Watkins said. “As soon as we settled in, we played a little better, but I think the moment was just a little big this year. But we’re happy to be here, and we want to start being here every year.”
New Bremen beat Jackson Center 25-17, 25-14 and 25-19 in Thursday’s second match. The Tigers, which had won the Div. IV title the last two years, beat New Bremen in a regional final last year.
More online, in Saturday’s paper: More about Thursday’s matches will be published online on Friday afternoon at sidneydailynews.com and in Saturday’s edition of the Sidney Daily News.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.