Riverdale regional finals: Riverdale def. Bureau Valley 25-21, 25-11
PORT BYRON — Riverdale coach Lisa Black had birthday and Halloween treats all wrapped into one Thursday night.
Her Rams volleyball team handed her a 25-21, 25-11 victory over the Bureau Valley Storm to capture the regional championship on the Rams’ home court on Halloween night.
It was also the coach’s birthday, which made it an extra-special treat for Black.
“I told them all I wanted for my birthday was a win, and they delivered,” Black said. “Anytime you can get a regional title, I’m all for it.”
It was the Rams’ second regional title in three years, while keeping the Storm from repeating as regional champions.
And it was a disappointing loss for the Storm (24-14) and coach Caitlyn DeMay, who believed the regional was the Storm’s for the taking.
“Everything’s the same in the postseason. Everybody starts 0-0. They got the two seed and we got the three seed, so everything on paper, technically they’re supposed to win the game. Best of luck to them at Hall (sectional),” DeMay said.
The Storm came out hot, especially junior Kamryn Kolb, who had two kills and a push to lift the Storm to an early 4-1 lead.
Kolb, who led the Storm with seven kills, hit again for an 8-6 lead, and Carly Konneck added a kill to make it 12-7.
Riverdale ran off seven straight with some heavy hits by senior Brooke Smeltzly and junior Addison Brock and some BV errors to take a 14-12 lead.
BV twins Sam and Molly Bohm paired up for a block for a sideout, and Sam Bohm followed with a kill to tie the game at 14.
The Storm went up 15-14 on double-hit call on Riverdale. Sam Bohm capped a three-point string with a block to put the Storm up 18-15.
The Rams calmed the Storm and went on an eight-point run to go up 23-18 with the end game in sight.
That’s when things got a little interesting when a pair of questionable calls went the Storm’s way.
The first came when the chair official overturned a call by the line judge who had a ruled a Riverdale ball to have hit the back line and called it out. Black sent her captain to discus the call with the chair official to no avail.
A call right at Black’s feet really drew the coach’s ire on a ball the Rams hit that she believed was clearly in, but BV got the point to pull within 23-21. Black drew a yellow card, which gave her a seat for the rest of the evening.
“When a ref overturns a line judge and the line judge is right there, it’s really difficult,” Black said. “And then right afterwards, there was a ball that I could see was completely in and just felt they missed that call, too. Too many back to back and in critical times of the game.”
While their coach was forced to take a seat, the Rams stood tall, finishing off the first set with a 25-21 victory.
The Storm held close at the start of the second set, pulling within 7-6 on a kill by Kolb and an ace by junior setter Lauren Wirth (12 assists).
Riverdale began to warm up with an ace by Faith Jackson, two kills by Brock and another by Shea Hanrahan to go up 12-6.
Konneck and Kolb scored kills for the Storm to draw the Storm within 18-11, but they got no closer as the Rams scored the final seven points.
“The girls started off slow and started off slow (Tuesday), but they really got into their groove and I just felt like they really dominated that second set,” Black said.
Black said the Rams benefited from the home court advantage.
“It feels amazing, especially at home. It’s our home court. The fans were out here. They were cheering loud for us and the girls were pumped up. And we did what we needed to do,” she said.
DeMay said the Rams had “the power of the serve and the power of the serve receive.”
“We tried our best tonight, and they came out on top,” she added.
The Rams advance to the Hall sectional at 5:30 p.m. Monday where they will play Deer Creek-Mackinaw, which won its own regional.