Stone Memorial’s best volleyball season in six years came to a close Tuesday night at Red Bank High School as the Lady Panthers were defeated in the Region 4AA semifinals by the hosting Lady Lions.

“It’s still something to be proud of; making it this far,” said SMHS coach Tori Permenter. “It’s a step for our program. It shows people that we’re coming back from where we’ve been.”

The semifinal was Stone Memorial’s first trip to the region tournament in six seasons. SMHS placed second in the District 8AA tournament last week, falling to Livingston Academy in the championship game.

“They worked really hard,” added Permenter. “The parents helped me out a lot. I give a lot of credit to my assistant coaches for helping build this program back up.”

The strides made by the program are largely due to contributions made by Stone Memorial’s three seniors: Kara Davis, Sydney Diem and Brooke Galan. Davis earned all-district this season, Galan earned all-district tournament, and Diem was named both.

“They were an important part of the team,” added Permenter. “Not just playing wise, but emotionally and mentally. They helped me as a coach. They’re some of the best girls I know, and we’re going to miss them next season.

“They started something that we’re going to look back on. They helped us take the first step.”

Red Bank, the District 7AA champion, defeated Stone Memorial in three sets, 25-15, 25-22 and 25-15.

“Red Bank did well,” added Permenter. “They capitalized on our mistakes. Our mental side got in the way a little bit.”

Though the senior class was key, SMHS returns talent for next season in Tessa Miller, Hayden Sims, Sophie Welch and Kayle Davis.

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