WILLMAR -- The Ridgewater volleyball team isn't flashy, but that didn't stop the Lady Warriors from beating Madison (Wis.) Area Technical College 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18 for the Region 13A title Saturday.
Ridgewater advances to the NJCAA Division III tournament, which will be held Nov. 14 in Rochester.
Lady Warriors coach Joe Sussenguth admits his team won't blow anyone out of the gym.
"When we play solid, basic ball, we're OK," he said. "We're not a team that's going to overpower you."
That statement was true for the entire match. Ridgewater kept to its game plan for most of it, relying on its blocking and defense to set up the offense. But there was a slight hiccup in the second game, when the Wolfpack controlled the tempo and forced Ridgewater to play from behind.
"What started us off well in the first game was our blocking. But it got away from us the second game," Sussenguth said. "The other thing that got away from us was our ability to get into our high-tempo game."
Sophomore hitter Leah Miller, one of four players returning from last year's national runner-up team, said the key to last two games was getting back to basics.
"We started working on one thing at a time and it all came together," she said.
With the front-line defense getting touches on balls, the back row shined in the last two games. Darcie Listul and Steph Boulton, both freshmen, recorded 10 and nine digs, respectively.
"Darcie was a great serve receive passer. (Madison Area) screens an awful lot and we had to work around that the whole day," Sussenguth said.
Miller and fellow sophomore Jordan Olerud led the Lady Warriors with 11 kills each. Freshman Karie Blommel followed with nine. Fesenmaier had 40 assists and four ace serves. Miller and freshman Mackenzie Kessler recorded six blocks each.
Ridgewater 3, Madison Area Tech 1
Madison Area 20 25 22 18
Ridgewater 25 23 25 25
Madison Area Tech
Statistics not available
Serving: Stephanie Tillman 12-13-0, Steph Boulton 14-15-0, Leah Miller 20-20-2, Darcie Listul 9-12-1, Jordan Olerud 16-17-1, Carina Fesenmaier 19-21-4 ... Setting (assists): Fesenmaier 40 ... Hitting: Tillman 20-23-8, Boulton 2-2-1, Miller 21-23-11, Olerud 21-22-11, Fesenmaier 8-10-2, Karie Blommel 25-29-9, Mackenzie Kessler 15-19-6 ... Blocking (total): Tillman 3, Miller 6, Olerud 1, Fesenmaier 2,