Despite dropping the first set, Ridgway regrouped Thursday night to top St. Marys 3-1 (12-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-14) to move to 5-0 in regular season play.
“We started off slow [Thursday] and St. Marys has some really nice hard hitters,” said Ridgway head girls varsity volleyball coach Janet Redmond. “They had some really good serves that really caught us off guard, we just couldn’t return them.
“We had some problems with that and we just didn’t move.”
Ridgway built an early 7-5 lead after a kill from senior Nicole Breier but after that, the Lady Elkers started to have severe serve-receive issues that plagued the home team. St. Marys rattled off 10 straight points, many of them Ridgway errors, to take control of the first game.
“There were a lot of errors and that’s what it comes down to when you’re trying to win the game,” Redmond said. “We were lucky that we regrouped and had Nicole [Breier] put some balls down.
“[Breier] is coming back well and her arm is starting to feel better.”
The Lady Elkers started off on the wrong foot in the second game with with three errors and more serve-receive trouble before junior Katie Oknefski got Ridgway back on track to cut the deficit to 4-1. Ridgway battled back to 11-all after consecutive kills from Oknefski.
Kills from St. Marys’ Taylor Bellina and Chelsie Gaton cut the lead to 17-16 but a point from Ridgway’s Sarah McClain and ace from Amanda Shilk extended the lead to 19-16. A tip from Oknefski and hit from Breier that sailed past the back row into no-man’s land gave Ridgway a 4-point cushion at 21-17.
A block by Oknefski and net violation gave Ridgway the 25-20 game and knotted the score at 1-1.
The Lady Elkers finally got it right in the third game coming out with a 9-3 advantage after two aces from Oknefski, a kill from Breier to make it 7-3, and a tip at the net from Breier to set the tone.
The visitors would battle back to within two points but would not get any closer. A kill from Bellina and subsequent ace from Sami Hanes seemed to tip the balance but the Lady Elkers regrouped and built an 8-point gap down the stretch to go up 20-12. A point from Breier extended the lead to 22-12 and she followed that up for an ace at 23-13 and a kill to take the game at 25-13 and a two games to one lead.
The fourth game was evenly-matched early on before a point from Breier shifted the score to Ridgway, 9-8. St. Marys would not get any closer.
Taking advantage of several errors down the stretch, Breier came up with two key blocks at 13-9 and 15-9 and later launched a shot past the back row to take an 18-11 advantage.
Ridgway outscored the visitors 7-3 down the stretch for a 3-1 victory to preserve their unblemished mark.
“Maybe it’s because we are 5-0, I don’t know, but I’m hoping being down 1-0 sort of woke them up a little bit,” Redmond said. “Every team is different and I don’t care what our record is. You have to go out and give 110 percent every single time that you get out on that court.
“You don’t think about anything else, it’s just that game. Either way, hats off to St. Marys because they are improving and really gave us a run for our money.”