By Tom Larson
WILLMAR -- The Ridgewater volleyball team wrapped up the MCAC Southern Division championship and a spot in the regional tournament last week.
Now, the Warriors are dealing with opponents striving to clinch playoff spots of their own. Rochester came to town Saturday looking to sew up a regional berth and Minnesota West will be at Ridgewater on Wednesday seeking the same thing.
But the Warriors aren't making it easy on them.
After dropping Game 1 on Saturday, the Warriors ticked off three straight games to down Rochester by scores of 22-25, 27-25, 25-16 and 25-17.
"Rochester needed this win to clinch a spot in the regions so they gave us their all," said Warriors head coach Joe Sussenguth. "This match prepared us well for our upcoming match against Minnesota West as a win for them will clinch a region tournament spot. These are the type of matches we want to win in October and I hope it's a trend that continues."
Ridgewater, the two-time defending NJCAA Division III national champion, improved to 18-5 overall and 11-0 in the Southern Division. The Warriors maintained their No. 1 national ranking.
Kelsey Stommes, Alex Horton and Kelci Viesselman all had 12 kills and Tiffani Karbo had 44 set assists to go with her 6 kills. Stommes also had 3 ace blocks.
Brittany Nissen had 8 kills and Cassie Ziemer added 7.
Sussenguth has expressed concern this season about his team's ability to play consistently and adjust during matches. He's beginning to see that at the right time of the season.
"This match reflected the growth and maturity our team has developed over the past week," Sussenguth said. Fortunately, after an error prone 1st set, we were able to make some offensive and defensive adjustments and control the floor better."
Ridgewater 3, Rochester 1
Rochester (5-4 14-8) 25 25 16 17
Ridgewater (11-0 18-5) 22 27 25 25
Statistics not available
Serving: Emma Sharpe 9-10-1, Morgan Meyer 5-5-0, Tiffani Karbo 21-21-1, Kelsey Stommes 3-6-0, Cassie Ziemer 12-14-1, Brittany Nissen 0-1-0, Alex Horton 9-13-1, Kelci Viesselman 16-19-1 ... Setting: Karbo 44 assists ... Hitting: Sharpe 1-1-0, Meyer 0-1-0, Karbo 11-12-6, Stommes 27-31-12, Ziemer 18-20-7, Nissen 16-20-8, Horton 32-35-12, Viesselman 32-38-12 ... Blocking (aces): Stommes 3, Karbo 1, Ziemer 1, Nissen 1, Horton 1 ... Digs: Sharpe 17, Meyer 16, Karbo 8, Stommes 3, Ziemer 5, Nissen 1, Horton 16, Viesselman 6