Ridgway volleyball lost 3-1 (19-25, 19-25, 25-23, 12-25) to Bradford Tuesday night at Ridgway Area High School.
Ridgway was able to push the match to a fourth set with a 25-23 third set victory, the first set the Lady Owls had lost this season in four matches.
“It was a tough team in Bradford,” Ridgway coach Janet Redmond said. “Even though we lost, it was nice to go four games with them. The girls played the best that I’ve seen them yet. They were moving and really working on hustling on the court and they did that. If we play any of the given teams in our league like we did [Tuesday], we’ll come out winning because Bradford’s a tough team. They have a nice good quick set, something our girls rarely see in our league. I’m very impressed.”
The opening of the third set was back-and-forth among both teams as there were eight ties in the first 18 points. Ridgway made its move at 11-all as the Lady Elkers scored seven straight points behind strong serving from Ellie Woodford and a flurry of blocks from Katie Oknefski. Sierra Kos added a kill at 12-11 and then Bradford made an error at 14-11. Oknefski made three straight blocks at the net for Ridgway and buried a kill after a Bradford timeout to push the Lady Elker lead to 18-11.
The Lady Owls would answer with a 5-0 spurt of its own with service points coming from outside hitter Megan Stratus before a Woodford tip and Mandie Leithner kill had the Ridgway lead to 20-16. Leithner had seven kills for the Lady Elkers.
“Mandie Leithner was on fire, she did an excellent job,” Redmond said. “Kiki Woodford in the back row was hustling. Our serves were excellent, we only missed five.”
Ridgway scored three of the next four points, highlighted by an ace from Gabby Wolff. At 23-17, Bradford would score five points in a row. Alyssa Ekas had a kill and Stratus contributed two during this stretch. Leithner and Stratus exchanged kills before a kill attempt went out at 24-23 to give Ridgway the third set.
“It’s all mental and if you can get into your opponent’s head, you can weaken them,” Redmond said. “I think that third game we did that. We hustled, we went after everything on that court. It was nice to see the girls playing as a team and helping each other out. Even though we lost, I’m very pleased with the performance of the girls.”
Bradford took control of the match in the fourth set with a big run of its own. At 7-5, Bradford would score 13 of the next 16 points to take a 20-8 lead en route to a 25-12 fourth-set win to seal the match. Haley Vinelli had three aces during this stretch for the Lady Owls.
Bradford opened up a slight lead in the first set with a 4-point spurt at 4-all. An Oknefski kill and a Bradford hitting error cut the margin back to two at 8-6. The Lady Owls would score three straight, including kills by Eka and Mayva Squires before Leithner buried back-to-back kills of her own for Ridgway.
At 12-8, Ridgway would score three straight points, the stretch including an ace from Amanda Shilk. After Bradford scored two straight, the team alternated points to leave the set at 15-12. Sarah McClain added a kill before Ail Rinfrette did the same for the Lady Owls. Kills from Oknefski and Kos put Ridgway within one before an ace from Woodford tied the set at 16-all.
Bradford closed the set strong with a 9-3 run, including four straight points at 21-19 to take the opening set by a 25-19 margin.
Ridgway scored three of the first four points in the second set, the first two coming on Bradford hitting errors. The Lady Owls would recover to take a 6-4 lead before a Leithner block and a Wolff ace tied the set at 6-all. The set was tied three more times but at 10-all, the Lady Owls would take 10 of the next 11 points from the Lady Elkers for a 20-11 lead. The Lady Elkers would keep pushing and kept the set going, scoring five straight points at 24-14 with Wolff serving a pair of aces during this stretch. A Vinelli kill ultimately closed out the second set for the Lady Owls.
McClain and Kos each had two kills for Ridgway.
“Overall, those girls fought for everything,” Redmond said. “I’m very pleased. They keep improving like this, they’re going to start winning ballgames.”
Ridgway is scheduled to play at St. Marys for a 6 p.m. match Thursday night. In JV action, Bradford won 2-1 over the Lady Elkers.