In a battle two volleyball powerhouses, North Hunterdon prevailed with a two game sweep of Cherokee in the NJSIAA Group IV semifinals.
In the nightcap, Ridge upset top-seeded Hunterdon Central in two games, setting up a match in the Group IV finals on Saturday (4:30 p.m. at William Paterson University).
“We’ve been working on staying up and having plenty of energy,” said head coach Kirk Hissner. “The first game we made a bunch of mistakes and kept Cherokee in the game … but our girls kept their cool and kept swinging away.”
Game one went back and forth, as both teams fought for the early lead. Midway through the game, both teams were tied at 15, but North Hunterdon was able to pull away, climbing to a 21-19 lead and an eventual 25-20 victory.
In the second game, the Lions were in control the entire game, and were ahead by as many as 11 points. The eventual 25-11 win sealed the victory.
The win puts North Hunterdon in the finals on Saturday, where they haven’t been since 2007. They will look to keep the momentum high in order to take home the title.
“The seniors are stepping up and the juniors are stepping up right behind them,” said Hissner. “We’re just coming together as a family, it’s great.”
The story of the upset lived on in the nightcap of the doubleheader, as Ridge took down top-seeded Hunterdon Central to advance to the finals.
“They just played with so much heart,” Ridge head coach Joanna Milot said. “They knew they had a lot of work to do and they stayed solid the whole time.”
The match proved very even, as both teams fought back and forth throughout. Ridge took an early 10-4 lead in game one, but Hunterdon Central was able to claw back. Tied at 24, Ridge was able to secure a lead and take the game by a score of 28-26.
Game two was much of the same. Ridge jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but Hunterdon Central never backed down. After being down 20-14, Central was able to tie the game at 23.
Though Hunterdon Central provided a tough task, Ridge played inspired volleyball the entire match. Ridge took the lead, and in exciting fashion took the match for a two game sweep.
While her team is set on taking the title, Milot isn’t ready to look forward just yet.
“We have to do more of the same,” Milot said. “But I think we’ll celebrate before we start thinking about North. They’re a great opponent and they’re going to be tough.”