The Newark Catholic hitters know how many kills they have.
They constantly are talking about it.
“(Becca Kapavik) really wanted it,” NC senior Kelsey Crumrine said. “She was talking to me, and she was saying, ‘Stop doing so well, so I can get some hits.'”
A little friendly competition never hurts. The top-seeded Green Wave spread out the offense Tuesday in a Division IV district semifinal against Ridgedale. Courtney McCracken had a team-high 10 kills in the victory, 25-12, 25-15, 25-13, at Hilliard Darby.
Crumrine followed with nine kills, and Kapavik added six kills and three blocks. The Green Wave (24-1) attempt to win their second consecutive district title at 4 p.m. Saturday at Darby against fourth-seeded Harvest Prep. The Warriors edged Worthington Christian in five sets earlier Tuesday.
NC was at its best at the start and end against Ridgedale (7-18). Kapavik sparked the Green Wave to a 15-3 lead in the first set. NC then finished strong in the final set with late kills from McCracken, Jill Blacksten and Jenna Bourne.
“We have been working all year for games like (Saturday),” Crumrine said. “When we play teams with higher intensity, we always play our ‘A’ game and up to the level of the team we are playing. I think we are ready.”
In between, Crumrine came to the rescue. The Green Wave got sloppy with service and hitting errors late in the first set, and it carried into the second.
As a right-side hitter, Crumrine does not receive many sets, but she rarely gets stopped. Feasting on the weak-side of the Ridgedale defense, Crumrine had several kills in the second set to help the Green Wave shake from a 13-12 advantage. They scored 12 of the final 15 points with help from a pair of Maggie Yocum aces.
“When the right sides are on, the setters realize it really quick,” Crumrine said. “They are really good about knowing who’s on and who’s off, and they adjust really well.”
NC usually is led in kills by McCracken or freshman Taylor Daignault, but the Green Wave do not have the type of go-to player that can swing a postseason match. With the competition revved up starting Saturday, it will need to be a group effort.
Kapavik and Blacksten have been particularly effective as blockers in the middle. NC also can set Bourne and Maddie Wirth as a changeup. Crumrine, however, seems to be an old reliable. She had a good connection Tuesday with setter Hallie Parker, who had 18 assists.
“It just depends on whoever is hot, whoever is playing hard and screaming for the ball,” said NC coach Jeri Helfer, whose team was ranked No. 5 in the final state poll. “That is who our setters are going to give it to. Kelsey Crumrine played real well, so we were giving her the ball. She was really excited and had a lot of intensity.”