College Volleyball: Three-peat potential
Ridgewater Volleyball Outlook
Joe Sussenguth, 7th year
MCAC Southern Division: 1st place (12-0)
Region 13A: 1st place
NJCAA Division III: National Champion
Final Record: 31-3
Season/home: Ridgewater Classic at Willmar; Lady Warriors play at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.
MCCC South Division: Aug. 29 at Fergus Falls
Kandace Taylor, Lake Crystal (St. Clair), 5-10 middle-hitter (25-27-8 attacks in 2011)
Emma Sharpe, Danube (RCW), 5-5 defensive specialist (235-256-20 serving, 181 digs)
Kelsey Stommes, Cold Spring (Rocori), 6-0 middle-hitter (251-304-28 serving, 570/614/ 284 attacks, 69 ace blocks
Cassie Ziemer, New London (NLS), 5-10 middle-hitter (42-46-4 serving, 189-202-81 attacks, 46 ace blocks
Brittany Nissen, Olivia (BOLD), 5-10 outside- right-side hitter (10-13-2 serving, 34-38-9 attacks)
Kelci Viesselman, Hutchinson, 5-9 outside hitter (82-94-16 serving, 493-555-214 attacks)
Paige Wilner, Litchfield (ACGC), 5-6 setter
Taylor Schellbach, Rush City, 5-5 setter
Taylor Sharpe, Danube (RCW), 5-5 outside-hitter, def. specialist
Morgan Meyer, Watkins (EVW), 5-9 outside- right-side hitter
Tiffani Karbo, Balaton, (TMB), 5-9 setter
Katie Knisley, Grove City, (ACGC), 5-10 outside- right-side hitter
Alicia Koenen, Clara City (MACCRAY), 5-10 outside hitter
Alexandra Horton, Maple Grove, outside- right-side-hitter
Emily Ripka, Oglivie, 5-11 middle-hitter.
n Two-time defending champions are ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA DIII poll have opportunity to become first DIII program to win three consecutive. In 2011, the Willmar-based team was ranked No. 3 in preseason.
n Two-time All-America setter Molly Hurrle and 2011 All-America outside hitter Hannah Smith have moved on to compete at a four-year college after each played on two national championship teams; returning sophomore Kelsey Stommes is an All-America holdover from 2011. All-Region/All-State libero Aimee Johnson and hitter Karli Wendlandt, a serve/receive specialist, also graduated while NJCAA All-Tourney choice Taylor Elzenga left after one season to pursue other career/academic interests.
n Six returning players are joined by nine newcomers. Coach Joe Sussenguth comments: "Combined with our first-year players, there is depth, versatility, athleticism and talent evident from the first day of practice. With the competitive level displayed, virtually everyone one should contribute. Competition for playing time will likely be a season-long challenge. ... The talent is in place to make a run. It is up to the team how much they want to put into improving each day. If they work well together, I'm certain we can contend for a National Championship."
n Setters: With Hurrle gone (she and Smith are both at Mayville State) Tiffani Karbo, Paige Wilner and Taylor Schellbach are learning the offensive system and "making great strides," states the head coach.
n Hitters: Stommes and Cassie Ziemer return in the middle. Emily Ripka and Kandace Taylor provide depth at a physically grinding position. Outside/Right will be flexible with Kelci Viesselman and Brittany Nissen returning. Freshman Alex Horton has had a strong preseason. Four others are in the mix.
n Defensive specialists: Emma Sharpe provides experience at serve/receive. Taylor Sharpe and Morgan Meyer are expected to contribute. A rule change allows 15 substitutions, making it possible to load as needed defensively. Comments Sussenguth: "We'll need to focus on back-row defense and serve/receive every day ... we'll have to find some committed players who can pass well in serve/receive and defend hard in the back row."