Second seeded Southern Regional High School (31-4) defeated No. 6 Ridgewood 21-25, 25-22, 25-20 in the semifinals of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs Wednesday.
The Rams earned the Group IV B sectional title with the victory.
Gianna Schiattarella had 17 kills, nine digs and five service points to lead Southern. Kari Klimek had 10 kills, Stephanie Soares added 28 assists and Jess Sprankle put up nine digs.
“I tell you what, we lost Game 1 tonight and were losing 22-16 in Game 2, and it didn’t look too promising,” said Southern coach Eric Maxwell. “But I have a group of girls who refuse to quit.
“They went on to make a 9-0 run, and win Game 2. It was a great, great experience to pull that off on our home floor. After that point, we turned the momentum, and we weren’t going to be denied in Game 3. We won because of heart tonight.”
Southern will play against No. 1 North Hunterdon in the final Saturday at William Paterson University.
“North has been the best team in Group IV all year,” Maxwell said.
“We did get a chance to play them about a month ago, so we’re at least familiar with them and know what they do and what they look like. We had a very close game and respect who they are. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for them, and we’re looking forward to opportunity.”
Southern won the Group IV Championship in 2008 and returned to the finals the next year. The Rams have not competed in a championship match since.
New Jersey Group II semifinals
(1) Rutherford 2,
(4) Pinelands Reg. 1
Rutherford defeated Pinelands 24-26, 25-17, 25-13. Pinelands fell to 27-3 while Rutherford improved to 29-1. No further information was available.
— Matthew Gitsas