Back To State: Cards Sweep Tigers In Regional Final

Members of the New Bremen Cardinals volleyball team celebrate after winning a Division IV regional final against Jackson Center on Saturday.
Sports Editor

CLAYTON — They made it look easy, but at times this season, it wasn't always easy. 

After suffering back-to-back losses to end the regular season and with a gauntlet that is the district and regional tournaments, there were skeptics out there that the defending state champion New Bremen Cardinals won't be able to repeat as champions, let alone get back to at least a state semifinal.

But they made it look easy, even when it wasn't.

A familiar foe they know all too well, the Cardinals swept a young Jackson Center team — 25-15, 25-13, 25-22 — in Saturday's Division IV regional championship to send New Bremen back to Wright State's Nutter Center next week.

"I think that is the best thing (losing to Coldwater and Fort Recovery in the final two regular season games) that could have happened to us," Cardinals coach Diana Kramer said. "We were defeated. After we played Fort Recovery, we wanted to win the MAC, but I told them, 'we want a MAC championship or do we want a state championship? Which is more important?' And they said winning a state championship.

"After we lost to Coldwater, I went home and watched so much film on what we were doing … I wanted to watch what we were doing to see if we needed to make any adjustments. We made a few adjustments and they were huge. After we lost to Coldwater, hardly anybody thought we were going to be in a position that we are in today. These kids are tough, they are really, really tough. I am proud of them and I am proud of this town."

Enough said.

After a thrilling district championship that saw New Bremen come back from two sets down to beat Midwest Athletic Conference champion St. Henry, the Cardinals were confident coming into the regional tournament, but they let their play do the talking.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they couldn't get New Bremen to shut up.

The Cardinals (23-4) opened the game with a 12-6 lead thanks to a block and kill from Rachel Kremer and kills by Josie Reinhart and Ashton Heitkamp.

The closest Jackson Center got at 20-12 as the Cardinals finished the first set one a 13-11 advantage after opening with a 12-6 lead.

New Bremen started slower in the second set with a slim 8-6 lead, but the Cardinals outscored Jackson Center 13-7 the rest of the way to go up 2-0.

The Cardinals led 20-14 following a Kremer fill in the final set, but Jackson Center scored the next four points to pull within two, 20-18 and two more points to make the score 22-20. New Bremen, however, scored three of the next four points in the set to beat Jackson Center for the fourth consecutive time, dating back to last season.

The Cardinals will play Monoreville out of the Uniontown Region in Thursday's state semifinal at 2 p.m. at the Nutter Center in Dayton.