No. 5 Rams can’t quite get past No. 2 Cougars
A season littered with long win streaks and tournament trophies ended much too quick for Darren Kittle and his North Adams-Jerome Rams against the No. 2 team in Class D.
The out-sized No. 5 Rams played their hearts out, but came up just short against Lenawee Christian, falling 18-25, 25-22, 21-25, 26-24, 9-15 in the district semifinals.
“They’re taller than us and they just kept hitting it over our blocks. Our girls never quit playing hard, we just didn’t have our best game, and that’s just kind of how it went at the end of the season,” Kittle said.
Kittle said his girls started out the final set well, but couldn’t quite close a team out that had plenty of power to show off in the middle.
“My girls absolutely played their guts out, but they did that all season. We didn’t blowout hardly anyone and we were always working hard for everything,” Kittle said.
The Rams went 35-7 and won three weekend tournaments this season, but Kittle said getting beat out for a league title by the Academy and not having a shot at the district crown is tough to swallow.
“It’s tough because I don’t feel like we have enough to show for going 35-7. We were a really good team and I don’t think we quite played up to our potential at the end of the season, including the Academy games.”
Kristen Trudell had 24 assists and four kills for N A-J and Shannen Kittle tallied 28 digs. Katelyn Smith had seven kills.
And in her final game of a four-year varsity career Miranda Hammons had 20 digs and seven kills. Hammons, a model of consistency and much of what’s right about high school athletics, set the school record for kills in a season and a career.
“She was all heart,” said Kittle, fighting off emotions of sadness. “She has meant a lot to our program, and all the time, every practice, all season you could count on her. To become the school’s career kill leader and being just 5-foot-6 is a testament to what she did over the course of four years.”
Hillsdale Academy waltzes into district finals with sweep
The No. 4 ranked team in Class D earned a date with the No. 2 squad in the class on Saturday with a 25-16, 25-20, 25-21 win over Jackson Christian Thursday.
Hillsdale Academy stayed aggressive from the get-go according to head coach Katherine Jones and they kept pushing and persevering until the end.
Grae Barber led the Colts with 16 digs and eight kills, while Heather Lantis had a team-high 24 assists.
Grace Leutheuser had nine kills and Laura Wonders tallied seven kills and four solo blocks.
The SCAA East champs improve to 33-12-1 overall and they now have their sights set on a Lenawee Christian team that took out North Adams-Jerome in five sets on Thursday.
On paper it looks like a match-up of power versus power and Jones agrees with that.
“They have two really good middle hitters and we have two really good middle hitters. We have good outside hitters and so do they,” she said. “But we’re going in as the underdogs with them ranked higher and I kind of like that, and I think my girls go in with a stronger mentality in these situations.”
The teams will be at Lenawee Christian at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Redskins breeze into title game
Camden-Frontier coasted into the district finals with a three-set win over Tekonsha, 25-19, 25-10, 25-18.
Danielle Abney had 15 kills and Effie Spieth totaled 13 digs.
Morgan Warfield had 14 assists and four kills, while Megan Schwartzengraber had eight aces and seven kills for C-F.
Jessica Hines had 12 assists and Jackie Parker tallied five kills.
The Redskins are 25-15-6 overall and they will face Will Carleton Academy in the final Saturday at 10 a.m.
The Cougars beat Litchfield in the semifinals.