Fenwick sweeps KR for district volleyball title, turns focus to Alter

Fenwick’s Rose Porter (11) and Blaise Chaney (7) attempt to block a shot during a Division II district volleyball final against Kenton Ridge on Saturday at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DAVID A. MOODIE
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Fenwick’s Rose Porter (11) and Blaise Chaney (7) attempt to block a shot during a Division II district volleyball final against Kenton Ridge on Saturday at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DAVID A. MOODIE

To say expectations were high for the Fenwick High School volleyball team this season would have been an understatement.

The 2015 Division II state semifinalists did, after all, return 12 players from last year’s state squad.

“There are people who thought we’d be 26-0 and be No. 1 in the state right now,” Fenwick coach Tyler Conley said.

The 21-5 Falcons have been ranked sixth or seventh in the state in recent weeks, but they are definitely meeting expectations when it comes to the postseason. Fenwick posted a 25-19, 25-23, 25-23 win over Kenton Ridge in the district finals at Fairmont’s Trent Arena on Saturday, advancing to the regional tournament for the third time in four years.

“Kenton Ridge was tough and we’ve faced so much adversity – we’ve had some losses we didn’t expect – we don’t look past anyone,” Conley said.

The Cougars (20-5) are no strangers to the district tournament as Kenton Ridge was making its fourth consecutive appearance Saturday. The balanced Falcons offense, however, didn’t make it easy as Fenwick’s Blaise Chaney led all players with 13 kills and Riley Wildfeuer added 10. Setter Grace Maziar posted 35 assists.

“Kenton Ridge had no idea where we were going to set the ball,” Conley said.

The Falcons were also solid defensively with Gwyn Oliver and Catherine Richards each tallying 11 digs on the night.

But despite trailing by two sets and being down in the third, the Cougars never quit, keeping it to a single-point deficit late in the final set.

“They never gave up. They battled the entire game,” Chaney said of Kenton Ridge.

Said Conley, “Kenton Ridge was tough. We were definitely tested.”

The real test, however, will come on Wednesday as the Falcons move on to the regional semifinals where they will face a familiar foe in Alter (16-9). The Greater Catholic League Coed Division rivals have played twice this season, with the Knights winning in three sets at Alter and the Falcons winning at home in four sets.

“It will be the toughest match we’ve played all season,” Conley said. “I expect the focus and the intensity to be the best it has been all year.”

While the Falcons are excited to play Alter, even returning state qualifiers contend with butterflies.

“Being here before doesn’t calm the nerves,” Chaney said.

Fenwick and Alter will face off Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Butler.

“Alter is known for going to state,” Conley said. “And now, we expect to be there too.”

• Three local teams fell in their respective district finals Saturday.

In Division I, Lakota East lost to Mother of Mercy 26-24, 24-26, 22-25, 25-23, 16-14. In Division III, Badin was swept by Versailles 25-10, 25-16, 25-18. In Division IV, Cincinnati Christian got blanked by Jackson Center 25-9, 25-6, 25-14.