Ridgewater advances to national final
ROCHESTER -- For the fourth straight year the Ridgewater Lady Warriors volleyball team will be playing in the NJCAA Division III championship match.
Take away a hiccup in its second game of the day, Ridgewater made it look relatively easy Friday en route to beating Nassau Community College of New York 25-14, 24-26, 25-8, 25-19 and sweeping Harper College of Illinois 25-20, 25-16, 25-23 in the opening day of the tournament.
The third-seeded Lady Warriors (27-9) will meet top-ranked Brookhaven College (32-8) in the title match today at 3 p.m. Ridgewater last won the national title in 2006 after Brookhaven, located in Dallas, had won the previous two titles. Last year's winner, Central Lakes, failed to qualify for the tournament this year.
Sophomore Leah Miller had 10 kills in each match and sophomore Carina Fesenmaier collected 84 assists and 12 ace serves to ignite the Lady Warriors. But many more played key roles for the Region 13A champion as the Lady Warriors' offense was too much for Nassau and Harper.
"We got contributions from everybody and you couldn't ask for anything more, except for the second set in our first match," said Ridgewater coach Joe Sussenguth. "We played extremely well and that was encouraging to see."
Sussenguth said the team got too comfortable in the second game against Nassau. Ridgewater responded by limiting the Lady Lions to just eight points in the third game.
For the day, the Lady Warriors made only 16 hitting errors in 172 attacks with freshman Karie Blommel leading the team with 21 kills, 16 coming against Nassau. Freshmen Stephanie Tillman piled up eight kills in each match and Mackenzie Kessler added 15 more for the day.
Ridgewater 3, Harper 0
Harper entered the tournament with the best record amongst the eight teams at 43-14, but the Lady Hawks couldn't solve the Ridgewater defense.
"Our back row was outstanding," said Sussenguth. We matched Harper's defensive effort and that's what they're known for."
Freshman Darcie Listul piled up 12 digs and Miller followed with 10 to pace the Lady Warriors' defense.
Fesenmaier collected three more ace serves after starting out the day with nine against Nassau to go along with her 35 assists and four kills.
Ridgewater.............................25 25 25
Harper....................................20 16 23
Serving: Stephanie Tillman 7-9-1, Steph Boulton 9-9-0, Leah Miller 12-12-0, Darcie Listul 16-18-2, Jordan Olerud 8-10-0, Carina Fesenmaier 12-15-3 ... Setting (assists): Fesenmaier 35 ... Hitting: Tillman 18-20-8, Miller 14-14-10, Listul 0-1-0, Fesenmaier 9-10-4, Karie Blommel 16-19-5, Mackenzie Kessler 14-14-8 ... Blocking (aces): Fesenmaier 5, Tillman 3, Miller 2, Kessler 2 ... Digs: Boulton 3, Miller 10, Listul 12, Olerud 7, Fesenmaier 5, Blommel 4
Statistics not available
Ridgewater 3, Nassau 1
Ridgewater opened with an easy win, but Nassau outlasted the Lady Warriors in the second game to tie up the match. The hitting of Blommel, sophomore Jordan Olerud, Miller, Tillman and Kessler then overwhelmed the Lady Lions from Garden City, N.Y.
The five combined for 54 kills, over half of the team's points for the match. Fesenmaier guided the attack with 49 assists.
Nassau 14 26 8 19
Ridgewater 25 24 25 25
Statistics not available
Serving: Stephanie Tillman 10-10-0, Steph Boulton 11-11-0, Leah Miller 16-17-3, Emma Koeberl 1-2-0, Darcie Listul 9-12-1, Jordan Olerud 10-13-1, Carina Fesenmaier 27-30-9, Missy Deal 2-2-1 ... Setting (assists): Fesenmaier 49, Miller 1 ... Hitting: Tillman 11-13-8, Boulton 1-1-1, Miller 17-18-10, Koeberl 2-2-0, Olerud 18-19-13, Fesenmaier 6-7-2, Molly Miller 2-2-1, Karie Blommel 26-26-16, Mackenzie Kessler 12-16-7 ... Blocking (aces): Fesenmaier 2, Kessler 1 ... Digs: Tillman 1, Boulton 4, Miller 9, Listul 11, Olerud 7, Fesenmaier 4, Deal 1, Blommel 1, Laurann Johnson 1