BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The little engine that could became a locomotive that didn't let anything stand in its way, not even previously unbeaten #2 Cherokee Chiefs. The 26-0, #1 seeded Ridge Red Devils put an exclamation point on their season by winning the Group IV State Championship at William Paterson University, 25-19, 25-20 over Cherokee.
The match was a see-saw battle in the first set before Ridge pulled away taking advantage of when Cherokee's dominant hitter Kayleigh Kitchen was stuck in the back row. The second set was dictated by runs for both teams: an early run by Cherokee to lead 11-5 and then Ridge quickly answered back with a 15-3 run to build a comfortable lead 20-14 before Peyton Robb got the winning kill on match point.
Ridge again relied on the effort of the entire team. Middle blockers Evelina Adamcyzk and Julia Syrdahl combined for five kills and five blocks and made Cherokee hitters unsure where to hit the ball. When they did get through the blocks, Rachel Tam patrolled the back row with 15 digs along with three aces and three assists.
Setter Zoe Pan had an all around game too with 14 assists and 10 digs. Last but not least, Ridge's trio of pin hitters, Isabela Garcia had four kills and four digs, Peyton Robb had three kills and three digs along with a team high four aces, and Chelsea Winegar led the team with five kills to go along with five digs. This team effort has been the signature of Ridge's season, getting contribution from everyone, at the right place, at the right time.
As the Group IV States Champ, Ridge continues its magical season in the Tournament of Champions on Saturday, November 18, at 3:30 at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. They go in as the #3 seed and will face off against the Group II Champ River Dell, who knocked off Demarest 25-14, 25-23.
The winner will move onto the Tournament of Champions Final against the winner of #1 Immaculate Heart Academy vs. either #4 Old Tappan or #5 Verona.