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Ridgewater volleyball introduces freshmen

WILLMAR -- Ridgewater volleyball doesn't so much reload as refuel.

It never comes in for a landing.

The Lady Warriors continue to cruise from season to season at a high altitude.

After winning their second national championship in five years, coach Joe Sussenguth had eight sophomores to replace. That includes two-time All-America Emily Roelike, now headed for Minnesota State, Moorhead.

He is pumping in nine freshmen to refill the half-empty tank with high-octane.

Here's a brief look at each:

Kelci Viesselman, 5-foot-8 outside hitter from for the Class AA state runner-up Hutchinson (25-3). 200 kills as a senior.

Shannon Donnay, 5-10 middle hitter from Kimball (10-14). Holds Cubs' blocking and kill records.

Emma Sharpe, 5-5 defensive specialist for Renville County West, from Danube. Camden All-Conference and Tribune All-Area.

Allison Hortop, 5-10 outside hitter from Faribault (20-8). Also a right-side hitter.

Kelsey Stomes, 5-11 hitter for Rocori, from Cold Spring, compiled 359 kill to go with 119 blocks and 247 digs. The St. Cloud Times selected her Player of the Year. Rocori finished 6AA runners-up.

Taylor Elzenga, 5-10 outside hitter, for Westbrook-Walnut Grove, from Westbrook. Three-time Red Rock All-Conference. She averaged 3.3 kills per game with a .418 hitting efficiency, plus 187 digs on defense.

Paige Pistulka, 5-11 hitter from Wabasso, notched 173 kills and 41 blocks for the Rabbits. Her brother, John, pitches for the Ridgewater baseball team and her high school coach Barb (Soine) Johnson played volleyball at Ridgewater.

Kandace Taylor, 5-10 middle hitter for St. Clair High School (21-9), from Lake Crystal. Team MVP, Best Blocker and Most Dedicated.

Brittany Nissen, 5-9 hitter for BOLD, from Olivia, is left-handed outside hitter who finished with 331 kills and 55 service aces for her career. Will also play softball for coach Todd Thorstad.

Sussenguth also announced late add Cassie Ziemer of New London-Spicer, a sophomore academically with first-year eligibility.

Returning players are All-America setter Molly Hurrle, MCAC All-State Hannah Smith, Region 13A All-Tournament Aimee Johnson and Karli Wendlandt.

Ridgewater finished 33-4 in 2010 and had their fifth straight top-three finish under Sussenguth at the NJCAA Division III tournament. The Lady Warriors also won the MCAC state tournament after a 12-0 finish in the Southern Division.

The team opens Aug. 26-27 with four matches at their own Ridgewater Classic.