With music blaring and girls dancing, it was more like a club than a locker room.
But it was just what the Knights needed.
“We were all really nervous before the match but then we started dancing, singing and screaming at the top of our lungs,” Alter setter Mary Rodehaver said. “It definitely helped me calm down.”
The Knights advanced to the state final for the sixth time since 2002 with a 25-23, 25-20, 25-15 win over Dover in the Division II state volleyball semifinals at the Nutter Center on Friday.
“We’re really grateful to be here and so lucky to have this opportunity,” senior opposite side hitter Sara Crotty said.
Crotty, Rodehaver and middle hitter Natalie Seiler are in their fourth consecutive state tournament. But, despite the Knights’ experience, it was the Tornadoes who came out firing. Dover posted the first three points of the match and led 12-10 midway through the opening set.
“I think we came out a little soft in the first set,” Alter outside hitter Kyra Ungerleider said. “But once we took control, we never let go.”
The work is far from over for the Knights as their ultimate goal of a state championship is still a win away. Alter has earned three state volleyball titles, the most recent in 2006.
“We just need to keep our nerves calm,” Seiler said.
Seiler led a balanced offense with 17 kills Friday. Maddie Bazelak and Crotty posted 13 and 10, respectively.
The Knights have 24 wins on the season, but the next one is the one that matters most.
“It would be awesome if we could start strong, stay strong and finish strong,” Alter coach Tina Jasinowski said.
Alter faces 27-1 Padua for the title today. The Bruins topped Beaumont 25-22, 25-20, 18-25, 25-18 in the other semifinal. Padua won D-II state titles in 2008 and ’09. The Bruins topped the Knights in the 2009 final.
Division III: It has been a decade since the Tigers last advanced to the championship match but this Versailles squad is ready.
Versailles knocked Upper Sandusky out of the tournament with a 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19 win in the D-III semifinals. It was the Rams’ first trip to state.
The Tigers don’t want to settle for anything less than a championship.
“We want it, we’ve been saying it for the past four years,” Versailles senor outside hitter Amanda Winner said.
Winner and junior outside hitter Lauren Bruns combined for 41 kills.
“In all honesty, we just faced a better team,” Upper Sandusky coach Matthew McConnaughey said. “They just move the ball too well, there was not a lot of weakness we could exploit.”
It will be a first-time champion regardless of outcome as Versailles will play Gilmour Academy in the D-II final today. The Lancers breezed to a straight-set win over the Ridgewood Generals, 25-17, 25-6, 25-16, in the semifinals Friday. Gilmour Academy is making its fifth state tournament appearance and fourth trip to the finals but the Lancers have had to settle for runner-up in 2011, ’10 and ’08.
39th Annual Girls State Volleyball Tournament
Where: Wright State University Nutter Center
Admission: $9 at gate, $7 pre-sale at participating schools
Finals: 11 a.m. – Division I: Toledo St. Ursula (29-0) vs. Mount Notre Dame (25-3); 1 p.m. – Division IV: Marion Local (27-1) vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph (23-5); 3 p.m. – Division III: Versailles (26-2) vs. Gilmour Academy (22-6); 5 p.m. – Division II: Alter (24-3) vs. Padua (27-1).