FARMINGTON – A decorated era in Farmington volleyball history concluded on Tuesday as another continued its undeniable rise at longtime power St. Pius.
The younger Lancers showed superior execution in all facets of the Class 4, District 1 championship showdown, and secured a 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22 victory.
Freshman middle hitter Bennett Raterman registered 17 kills and seven blocks with a .448 hitting percentage, and neatly tipped the clinching attack past a double block to trigger a celebration.
Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Leftridge also amassed 17 kills while strong all around with four blocks, nine digs, three aces and 31 serve receptions.
St. Pius (23-3) avenged a home sweep last month to take two of three encounters with the Knights this season, and will face Westminster Christian in state quarterfinal action on Saturday.
The result marked the final varsity match at Farmington (29-8-2) for seniors Jade Roth, Jelena Gray and Grace Duncan, who won two previous district crowns as four-year starters.
Gray buried a clutch spike from the back row on a back-set from Cheyenne Strohkirch to capture game three and prolong the match, but the visiting Lancers would not be denied.
Freshman setter Elena Ruble totaled 47 assists, 11 digs and five shared blocks, and put her hitters in position to inflict damage from the outset.
She also served a crucial 7-0 scoring run early in game four. Sophia Michaud notched one of her five kills on a slide set, then followed two hitting errors by Gray with a block for a 9-2 advantage.
St. Pius was likewise sharper along the back row, getting 16 digs and 30 receptions from libero Karlie Lane along with 13 digs and 22 receptions from Emma Frazier.
Middle hitter and Division I prospect Roth powered Farmington with 17 kills and three blocks, and cut the late deficit to 13-9 off a running bump set by Strohkirch.
Roth had the advantage over Raterman during their match in Festus, but the 6-foot-3 freshman starred with several pinpoint angled kills throughout the postseason clash.
Roth answered with a solo block after being stuffed twice by Raterman on tight sets down the stretch, but a perfect dink by Ruble on second contact fell to give St. Pius a 21-12 cushion.
The Knights offered one last stand of resistance once St. Pius attacked with less authority, and got within 22-20 as Duncan and Ava Cooper connected on spikes from opposite sides.
Anne Makowski landed her 10th kill to quell the momentum, however, and Raterman sealed the win on finesse after a double block by Roth and Duncan helped Farmington save two match points.
Gray slammed an early spike down the line while totaling 15 kills and 10 digs overall, and the Knights delivered an ideal start. Roth struck from the 10-foot line, and Ella Swyres found the back line at 9-4.
But too many passes resulted in free balls or light attacks. St. Pius steadily battled back as Leftridge and Raterman combined for 11 kills in game one.
Farmington sophomore Madison Mills delivered six blocks from her middle spot, and stuffed a swing after the Lancers established a 17-14 advantage.
But Leftridge ripped a go-ahead kill and served two key aces during a 5-0 push as St. Pius snapped an 18-18 tie to seize command of the opening set.
Hanna Burch made six kills, and Michaud provided five blocks for the Lancers, who maintained a slight edge through the majority of game two. The largest separation came at 18-14 on a Burch spike.
Duncan twice trimmed the margin to two points while compiling 10 kills and eight digs, but Leftridge converted an excellent stop by Lane with a left-side smash to answer a Roth kill at 21-20.
Gray turned the first set point aside with a brilliant off-balanced punch that squeezed between a blocker and the antenna to catch the sideline.
But the Lancers cemented a two-game cushion when Makowski scored off a single pass, as Ruble delivered another set on target.
Emily Bauer produced 24 assists with five digs, and Strohkirch finished with 23 assists and seven digs while often on the move in the Knights’ two-setter system.
Roth struck three times during her first progression across the front row in game three, and Farmington avoided losing ground once she rotated out.
Ten ties preceded a big sequence favoring the Knights, as Gray belted a left-side swing and Strohkirch followed with an ace. Mills restored an 18-15 lead with a stuff-block.
St. Pius drew even at 22-22 on a two-handed push from Burch and easy putaway by Makowski on an incoming overpass.
Roth countered by tipping toward an open spot, and the Lancers dropped the next point on a sailed attack following solid digs from Lane and Leftridge.
Junior libero Brynn Johnson made 14 digs for Farmington, which will revamp its offensive alignment next year due to graduation. Cooper had four of her six kills in game four, and Swyres added four kills.