The Cardington volleyball team made history on Saturday when they topped Northridge 25-22, 25-21, 13-25 and 25-22 in the Division III district final hosted by Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
For the first time in program history, the Lady Pirates advanced through district to the regional level of play, where they will take on Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy at Kettering Fairmont on Thursday.
“We’ve been working for this a long time and they did it,” said head coach Ryan Treese. “They took over halfway through the season. It started during the summer. I don’t usually call timeouts in the summer and let them play. I called a time out in a game and Audrey (Brininger) stepped up and said something and I was like, ‘Whoa; I’m done’.”
It wasn’t easy to get past top-seeded Northridge, as all three sets won by the Pirates were nip-and-tuck affairs. Northridge held a slim lead for a lot of the first set, but four straight points by Jadine Mills gave Cardington a lead at 15-13 and two more points by Emalee Artz increased their advantage to an 18-14 score.
Northridge would come back to tie the score at 21, but the Pirates rallied to get two points from Mills to claim a 25-22 win.
The second set played out similarly. After trailing early in the set, Cardington got four straight points from Madison Linkous to surge in front by a 12-8 score. Northridge was able to stay in the game, riding two points from Olivia Garee and three from Claire Shank to tie the game at 16, but the Pirates were able to pull away late in the game to move in front by a 2-0 margin in the match.
“The only thing I said after the second set was that we have two in the pocket,” said Treese.
Cardington opened the third with two points from Cadie Long and held a slim lead in the early going. However, with the score tied at 9-9, the Vikings got six straight from Bailee Keys to surge in front. That run gave them the momentum and they wouldn’t look back in winning 25-13.
Northridge started the fourth set where they left off in the third, getting four points from Garee and two from Gabi Smith to lead 10-4. Cardington would battle back, though. A defensive point and three served by Maggie Wade brought the Pirates within a 10-8 margin and they would continue to cut into the Viking lead.
“I tell my girls to not ever look at the scoreboard,” said Treese. “I don’t even know if they knew they were chipping away.”
Trailing 18-16, the team temporarily tied the game behind a pair of points from Long. Northridge would score defensively to regain the lead at 19-18, but a defensive point by the Pirates tied things up again and Wade then tallied three in a row to make it 22-19.
A three-point run by Northridge tied things up at 22, but Cardington got a defensive stop and then finished off the match behind a pair of points served by Linkous.
After the win, Treese said his team will celebrate their success in finally getting over the hump and reaching regionals.
“We’ll watch a movie on Monday,” he said. “We’ll take Monday off and just enjoy this. This week’s going to be fun, but we’re going to get to business.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS