Ridgway’s Maria Buhler came up with aces at the most important time for the Lady Elkers Thursday night.
With the Ramettes on the brink of forcing a fifth set, Buhler hit three service points to close a 3-1 (25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 26-24) victory for Ridgway over Johnsonburg at Ridgway Area High School.
“I really commend Maria Buhler coming in there and having those nice, hard serves,” Ridgway coach Janet Redmond said. “She was getting the job done for us.”
Johnsonburg had a 24-22 lead in the fourth set until the Lady Elkers won a service point. Buhler then hit two consecutive aces to put Ridgway ahead 25-24 before a serve was hit into the net by Johnsonburg to close out the match.
It was Ridgway’s third match in as many days and Redmond said the fatigue began to show.
“It was a rough start because, especially coming into this game, we already had two wins under our belt,” Redmond said. “We were pretty tired and their wounds are starting to show. They had to dig down deep and get the job done.
“I told them that it would come down to when you’re tired and weak, you got to dig down deep,” Redmond said. “They got a little down but they can bring themselves out of that. But there are six players on that court and we want them to all do their job to get the job done.”
After splitting the first four points of the match, Katie Oknefski reeled off six straight points off of the junior’s serve to make the lead 8-2 early in the first set. Johnsonburg then took advantage of Ridgway errors to score four of the next five points and get within three at 9-6. The Lady Elkers then rattled off a 6-0 run with senior Erica Thorwart providing five service points. Ridgway had a 21-10 lead as its biggest in the first set, Johnsonburg began to rally after that with a 6-1 run to cut the lead to 22-16. Ridgway and Johnsonburg split the final six points as the Lady Elkers won the first set 25-19
The Lady Elkers shot out quickly in the second set with a 4-1 lead. Johnsonburg regrouped and was within one at 8-7, prompting a Ridgway timeout. The Lady Elkers responded with a 7-1 run including two straight aces from Nicole Breier at 13-8 and 14-8. Breier closed the set with an ace as Ridgway had a 2-0 match lead with a 25-16 second set win.
The two teams split the first six points of the third set. Johnsonburg scored four straight points to make the margin 7-5. Ridgway tied the set at 7-all and again at 10-all, 11-all and 12-all. Buhler added an ace which started a 6-1 run to put the Lady Elkers ahead 18-13. Johnsonburg continued to rebound as Kiesha Dornish pounded two kills in a row for the Ramettes to tie the set at 20-all. At 21-all, Johnsonburg scored four of the last five points to take the third set, 25-22.
Chelsea Benson had a block early in the fourth set to make the Johnsonburg lead 2-1 as the final set was a back-and-forth battle. The set was tied at 2-all, 3-all, 5-all, 7-all, 8-all, 11-all and 20-all. At 11-all, Johnsonburg went on a 4-1 spurt to take a 15-12 lead, Brianna Fabris added a kill during that run for the Ramettes. Ridgway began to close the deficit and at 20-17, a Breier kill and two aces tied the set at 20.
Sarah Bevacqua added a pair of service points during as Johnsonburg led 23-20. Breier threw down two kills for a response but the Ramettes stood at 24-22 before Ridgway’s service game ended up closing out the match.
Although Ridgway’s service game helped Ridgway win at the end, Redmond said there were too many mistakes in that aspect.
“Our offense really didn’t work, our passing was bad,” Redmond said. “Our serves were terrible. We haven’t been missing more than six serves in a whole match and we missed 17, that’s way too many points to give up.”
Both teams will take part in the Elk County Tournament this Saturday at Elk County Catholic High School.
“That’s the sport of volleyball, you got to ready to play at any given time and do your best,” Redmond said. “They worked their way back to win.”