RIDGWAY – Kane had several chances Tuesday to power past undefeated Ridgway before the Lady Elkers broke through for a 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-13) win.
Tied at 2-2 going into the last set, Ridgway took a dominant start aided heavily by seven Kane errors to take an early 10-1 advantage in the fifth and deciding game.
"In the fifth set, we had six or seven errors at least, and we've been doing this-- getting into pressure situations and then we're not playing up to our ability," said Kane head girls volleyball coach Judy Kessler. "We had a lot of streaks in this match where we played at a high level with running a faster offense, passing the ball well, serving strategically, but then the pressure gets on them and the bottom falls out.
"Until they can play through the pressure, they're not going to win games like this when they should."
A misplay at the net and a long ball that sailed over the line gave the Lady Elkers the 2-0 lead; a kill from Ridgway's Katie Oknefski upped the lead to 3-0 before another Kane shot sailed over the line. Oknefski then slapped a long shot that fell just inside the corner to take a 5-0 advantage.
A Ridgway miscue moved it to 5-1 before Oknefski regrouped to make a play at the net for a 6-1 lead. Kane would follow up with a long ball over the line, a misplay at the net and a net violation to drop to 9-1. A block from Oknefski increased the deficit to 10-1 lead.
However, to Kane's credit, the Lady Wolves battled back to tie the set at 11-all thanks to stellar play from Audrey Perry.
"Kane is a hard-hitting team I think and [Audrey Perry] is an excellent hard-hitting player, but that type of play is something that we've been up against before so I can't understand why we weren't moving our feet enough," said Ridgway head girls volleyball coach Janet Redmond.
Down 10-1, Ridgway put a serve in the net to knock a point off the deficit total; after a long ball to drop the lead to 10-3, Oknefski regrouped with a kill to seemingly put Ridgway back on track.
That's when lightning struck in the form of Perry, a junior middle hitter who helped bring the game back to 11-11. At 11-3, Ridgway put a serve into the net and Perry quickly followed with a point at the net to cut the lead to 11-5. Perry followed up with a kill to cut the lead to 11-6 and an ace from Cassie Whittemore set the score at 11-7.
Perry and Whittemore pulled a one-two punch again with a Perry kill to go to 11-8, another Whittemore ace to cut the lead to 11-9, and consecutive Perry points to knot the score at 11-11.
"We nearly let it go at the end and Kane was having nearly an error-free match until the fifth game," Redmond said. "On our part, we had many, many errors. The only positive thing is that this was the first time we had to go to five games and we had to dig down deep for this.
"It was good to see us have that much energy left at the end. We still need our younger girls to improve because their defense is shaky."
A tip from Oknefski tipped the scales back in Ridgway's favor at 12-11 but Perry immediately responded with a point of her own, then took the serve and laid down an ace for a 13-12 lead, Kane's first advantage of the fifth set.
"I won't take anything away from Ridgway because they have a couple girls that can hit nicely and they have excellent defense but at the same time, I think our offense, especially with Audrey [Perry], was better than what Ridgway was doing on defense," Kessler said. "That's why [Perry] ended up with a gazillion kills."
Unfortunately for Kane, Perry's ace would turn out to be Kane's only lead of the fifth set.
Ridgway responded with a block from Nicole Breier to tie it 13-all and after a long hit from Kane that went over the line, Breier ended it at the net for the 15-13 win.
See full article by purchasing the Sept. 21 edition of The Kane Republican.