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College volleyball: Warriors fall to Madison in NJCAA DIII final

Rochester Post Bulletin / Elizabeth Nida Obert Ridgewater’s Tracy Braaten blocks a shot from Madison College’s Mikayla Nigl during the finals of the NJCAA Division III National Volleyball Tournament on Saturday at UCR Fieldhouse in Rochester.

ROCHESTER — The Madison (Wis.) College Wolfpack rebuffed an upset bid by Ridgewater College to win the NJCAA Division III volleyball championship on Saturday afternoon at the Rochester Sports Center.

The No. 1-rated Wolfpack (34-3), who didn’t lose a game in their three tournament wins, held off the Region 13A champions 25-22, 19-25, 25-22 for the program’s first-ever national championship.

“We have to give Madison credit,” Ridgewater head coach Joe Sussenguth said. “They have a well-rounded and experienced team. Unfortunately, we ran into a couple of stretches where they went on two- and three-point runs, and in a championship match, that can be enough to win a set.”

No. 3 rated Ridgewater (23-10) reached the final with a mild upset of No. 2 Central Lakes College of Brainerd in five tough sets on Friday in the semifinal round. The Warriors were pursuing their fifth national title this century.

Jen Puncochar led the Warriors with 12 kills, and Tiffani Karbo had 27 assists, 1 ace serve and 1 ace block.

It was the third runner-up trophy for a Sussenguth-coached team. His teams won the national trophy in 2006, ’10 and ’11.

Three Warriors were named to the All-Tournament Team: freshmen hitters Puncocher and Tegan VanMoer and sophomore setter Karbo.

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of this team of the season we had,” Sussenguth said. “They fought so hard to win the regional tournament on the road and battled just as hard to get to the National Championship match.  It’s always tough to see a season end, but this one may be a little harder given the close matches we won to get to the end.”

Madison 3,

Ridgewater 0

Ridgewater (23-10)           22 19 22

Madison (34-3)   25 25 25

(Key: good-attempts-aces)


Serving (aces): Morgan Meyer 1, Tiffani Karbo 1, Hailey Osland 3 … Set assists: Karbo 27 … Hitting: Jen Puncochar 36-38-12, Taylor Sharpe 3-3-0, Meyer 3-4-3, Karbo 6-7-0, Osland 7-11-1, Tegan VanMoer 20-24-7, Amy Bolin 6-8-2, Tracy Braaten 13-13-4 … Blocking (aces): Karbo 1 … Digs (5 or more): Puncochar 9, Sharpe 11, Karbo 5, VanMoer 5


Serving (aces): Vanessa Clarson 1, Payton Klein 2, Terissa Bierd 3, Mikayla Nigl 1 … Set assists: Hannah Grahn 23 … Hitting: Klein 15-17-2, Sydney Clarson 1-1-0, Danielle Crawford 18-18-7, Grahn 5-5-1, Bierd 25-29-11, Kayla Voorhees 1-2-0, Nigl 10-10-4, Elizabeth Mahsem 24-28-10 … Blocking (aces): Grahn 1, Bierd 1, Mahsem 1 … Digs (5 or more): Vanessa Clarson 20, Klein 5, Sydney Clarson 9, Grahn 12, Bierd 16, Nigl 12