Kenton Ridge beat Tippecanoe in three sets Thursday and will play Benjamin Logan in a sectional final game Saturday.
NEW CARLISLE — Kenton Ridge rolled through regular season play and captured its first Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division title in over two decades.
“It was overdue,” junior middle hitter Karrah Batten said of winning a conference title. “Long overdue.”
The only way to top the conference title according Batten is to make a long tournament run.
In the first set against Tippecanoe last night in a sectional semifinal game at Tecumseh, it looked like that goal would be coming to an end. Tippecanoe jumped on top of the Cougars 12-4, forcing Kenton Ridge head coach Lori Saunders to call a timeout.
“That looked like typical Tippecanoe there,” Saunders said. “They could pass and hit well and set and serve. It was reminiscent of how they looked in 2007, 2008, and 2009. That was the real Tipp. That was how we should have been playing.
“We had to relax. We were not passing well, we made some hitting errors, and weren’t in the zone. But we got our composure back and got it going.”
The Cougars scored the next six points and battled back to win the first set 25-23. Kenton Ridge held of the Red Devils the rest of the way, winning the next two sets 25-19 and 25-17 to advance to a sectional final game. The Cougars (23-1) will take on Benjamin Logan (16-8) on Saturday at Tecumseh’s Reynolds Gymnasium.
“This is exactly what they deserve,” Saunders said. “They’ve had a stellar season, and to be moving along in the Division II tournament is a pretty fabulous feeling. It’s pretty remarkable for them; I’m proud of them.”
Junior outside hitter Taylor Brown said Kenton Ridge communicated better after that timeout.
“We started playing together and talking more after that timeout,” Brown said.
Batten said Tippecanoe’s early run served as a wake-up call.
“We just needed to put everything together,” Batten said. “We weren’t awake yet and playing as a team.”
Batten had 12 kills and four blocks in the game for Kenton Ridge. Brown had 12 kills and 10 digs.
“It’s awesome to go to (sectional finals),” Batten said. “We’ve been working hard and it feels great.”
Batten has 235 kills this season for Kenton Ridge and leads the team with 49 blocks.
“She is brute strength,” Saunders said of Batten. “She is the most powerful player I’ve had since I’ve been here. She is very powerful. She knows the game. She found the spots well tonight. She was getting triple-blocked at one point, and she found the spots so (Tippecanoe) had to take that triple-blocking away.”
Batten and Brown have been a potent combo at the net for Kenton Ridge. Brown leads the Cougars with 270 kills.
“She’s a phenomenal defensive player,” Saunders said of Brown. “When she is in the front row, we can’t get the ball to her quick enough. She gets up there and hovers. She finds that spot, and puts it down. She has a great ability to find the hole.”
The glue that holds Kenton Ridge together according to Saunders is junior setter Sierra Kirk. Kirk has 799 assists on the season, which is the best of all CBC players.
“We can’t do this without her,” Saunders said of Kirk. “She sets well and sets everything up. It wouldn’t happen without her.”
Kenton Ridge will play Benjamin Logan in a Division II sectional final game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. It will be the first time the two CBC schools have played each other this season.
“We’ve got to keep everything together,” Batten said. “We’ve got to get more good passes and good sets early.”