Dream season comes to an end for Ridgewood’s volleyball team

| November 11, 2013

DAYTON – A season with high expectations for the Ridgewood High School volleyball team culminated Friday afternoon.

Unable to solve a thunderous attack by a tall, talented front line, the Lady Generals fell to Gilmour Academy of Gates Mills in the Division III State Tournament Semifinal at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

Bolstered by a 6-foot-3 senior Jess Jonata’s 16 kills, Gilmour ended the self-proclaimed “Dream Team’s” storybook season with a 25-17, 25-6, 25-16 decision.

But as much as Ridgewood was unable to produce it’s “A game” in the process, much of the credit should go to the Lancers, which reached the state finals for the third time in the past four years and the fifth time overall.

“We really zeroed in on trying to execute with minimal mistakes,” said Gilmour coach Kelly Coughlin, whose team improved to 23-6. “We are trying to become hard to beat and I think today, our experience along with are execution and versatility really was just too much.”

Behind Jonata, Gilmour was virtually unstoppable at the net, combining for a .311 overall hitting percentage as they committed just 11 errors on 106 total spike attempts. Alexa Turk, a 5-10 sophomore, Laura Brzozowski, a 6-1 junior and Megan Polak, a 5-11 junior combined for 26 more kills against the Ridgewood defense.

“Gilmour played extremely well,” Ridgewood coach Kayla Crozier said. “They took us out of our offense and out of our passing game a lot more than we are used to, which made it challenging for us to do anything.”

Having committed to playing collegiately at the University of Iowa, Janota started a 4-0 run in the first set with a kill, which helped the Lancers move from a 6-6 tie to a 10-6 lead and Ridgewood was unable to creep any closer than four points the rest of the set.

Gilmour completely dominated the second set by rolling out to a 14-1 lead. In the third set, Ridgewood scored the first point but back-to-back kills by Janota provided a lead that the Lancers never relinquished.

Ridgewood’s lone senior, Laura Frazee said the start of each set hurt the Generals.

“We just didn’t start out very strong,” she said. “It wasn’t really nerves, we approached this as if it was just another match but we just couldn’t get anything going.”

Crozier was pleased with how the team battled after a poor second set.

“That third set was proof that these girls never give up,” she said. “They are fighters and have been all season. I think if we could have had better passing today, the game would have been totally different. That wasn’t our normal passing and it was hard to come out of that.”

It was Ridgewood’s first-ever appearance at the state tournament, which led to the adoption of the “Dream Team” moniker but Gilmour’s past experiences played a role in the outcome.

“Ridgewood is a great team but our experience along with our execution and versatility really was just too much,” Gilmour coach Kelly Coughlin said. “We came in playing pretty fast and kept them out of rhythm. I don’t know if they ever truly found it.”

Amanda Lowery paced Ridgewood with nine kills and Laura Crawford chipped in six kills to lead the Generals, who finished the season 26-2.

Ridgewood’s only senior, Frazee chipped in five kills and seven digs in the final match of her volleyball career, Erika Michael had 22 assists and Morgan McDorman recorded 11 digs.

Sitting in front of the bright lights of the post-match media interview room, a very emotional Frazee was unable to find the words to put a cap on exactly how the 2013 season unfolded, but Coach Crozier chimed in.

“I don’t think the whole experience has set in just yet,” she said. “But hopefully the girls understand what it means to get here and want to experience it again. We accomplished a lot of things and made school history, it was a great season.”

The Lady Generals finish the campaign with a 26-2 record, the best in school history.

“This team learned a lot about what needs to be done to be prepared to compete at this level,” said Frazee, who spent several minutes embracing and talking with sophomore Laura Crawford. “I told her thanks for everything because this was a season I will never forget for the rest of my entire life.”


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