River Ridge defeated Cass (25-6, 25-7) and Carrollton (25-18, 25-16) to set up a rematch with Carrollton for the area title. In that best-of-five match, the Lady Knights won 25-21, 25-25, 25-14.
River Ridge coach Jeff Kirk was happy that his team was able to hold on for the win against Carrollton, although the match was more competitive than he expected.
“In the championship match, the first set with Carrollton was closer than we wanted it to be, but during the second and third sets, we took care of business,” Kirk said.
The title match required a total team effort.
Dakota Williams led River Ridge (35-10) with 22 assists, while Katie Tyler added 12 assists and 10 digs. Offensively, Olivia Stasevich led with 15 kills and added 14 digs.
As for the Lady Knights’ defense, Angel Cornista came through with 20 digs. Makayla Dyer added 18 and Abby Skinner 14.
Other key players included Brittany Castro (seven kills, three blocks) and Sophie O’Hare (four kills, two blocks, two digs).
Not only did River Ridge shine as a team, but a few players were recognized for their success on the court throughout the season.
Jess Mlaska, a senior middle hitter, was named the area player of the year for the second straight season. Tyler, a senior setter, and Castro, a sophomore right-side hitter, joined senior libero Ashley Casey on the all-area team.
River Ridge started the season 5-6, with tough losses to schools in higher classifications, but it breezed through Area 6AAAA play with a 9-0 record.
The Lady Knights, who have won 30 of their last 34 matches, will host Hephzibah, the No. 4 seed from Area 2AAAA, in a first-round state playoff match today at 5:30 p.m.
Elsewhere in the county, state tournament play won’t begin until Thursday.
Area 7AAAAA champion Sequoyah will hosting 5AAAAA No. 4 North Paulding, while fifth-seeded Creekview will travel to 1AAAAA champion Harris County.
Woodstock and Etowah will be on the road, after finishing with the fourth and fifth seeds, respectively, from the Area 4AAAAAA tournament. The Lady Wolverines will play at 5AAAAAA champion Chattahoochee, while the Lady Eagles will travel to 8AAAAAA champion Norcross.