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Ridgewater cops Region 13 crown

Ridgewater College freshman outside hitter Emily Roelike rises high over the net in Set 2 to deliver one of her match-high 17 kills against Rochester at Willmar on Saturday. The Lady Warriors won in three games to advance to the nationals. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- One of the Ridgewater volleyball players wore her Halloween costume during the Region 13 championship match on Saturday. At least it looked like Emily Roelike was dressed as a missile the way she soared through the air and delivered 17 kills as the Lady Warriors prevailed 25-17, 25-23, 33-31.

Ridgewater advances to the NJCAA Division III tournament Nov. 14-15 in Rochester.

The third set was a thriller and had the packed house standing and cheering with nearly every point.

"In all of the volleyball I've watched and coached, I've never been a part of anything like the third set," said Ridgewater coach Joe Sussenguth. "We battled back down three or four points last in the third set. It's something that this team has done before and regardless of the score or being down to set point, we'll fight it to the end."

Rochester had set point nine times in that final set, but each time the Lady Warriors rallied back. Down 31-30, Ridgewater's Macy McKay tied it with a kill, took a 32-31 lead on Stephanie Tillman's ace block and won it on Karie Blommel's 14th kill of the match.

Ridgewater had won a five-set match over the Yellowjackets last Sunday in the MCAC state championship.

"It's a challenge to play one team a number of times," said Ridgewater coach Joe Sussenguth, who celebrated his 31st birthday with the win. "But after our five-set (win) against Rochester last Sunday (in the MCAC state final), I expected a better performance out of our team this time."

And he got it. Ridgewater bolted to a 14-7 lead in the opening set and never looked back. Blommel started out hot with five of her kills coming in that first set.

Brianna Jacobson, one of Ridgewater's top hitters this season, rolled her ankle in the second set and did not return. Her injury was diagnosed as an ankle sprain and her status is day-to-day, said Sussenguth.

The Lady Warriors' fire was then stoked by Roelike red-hot attacks in the second set. The willowy 5-7 freshman from Belgrade uncorked 10 kills from 11 attacks in the middle set and had many of the boisterous fans yelling "boom" every time she flew over the net to start her arm swing on sets from Darcie Listul.

"Emily recognized that we needed more offense from her after Brianna's injury," said Sussenguth. "Rochester had a tough time finding a way to stop her even with their six-foot-two rightside hitter against her throughout the match."

Ridgewater trailed 15-12 in the third set and came back to tie it at 19-19 on a kill by Blommel. The Yellowjackets then went up 24-22 and had two match points, but with Brandi Bodin serving, the Lady Warriors again tied it on a Blommel kill and a Rochester net violation.

Rochester then had seven other chances to put the set away, but were denied each time and Ridgewater eventually put the match away.

McKay finished with 10 kills.

"Macy had a solid contribution throughout the match," said Sussenguth. "She adds offensive and defensive stability and power at the right side that most teams don't have. She had five of her 10 kills in the third set and did a great job slowing down Rochester's outside hitter in the front row."

Alison Mason, filling in for Jacobson, had four kills.

"She did a great job stepping in for Brianna," Sussenguth said. "A left-handed middle isn't typical, but to perform as well as she did in an important match, while being ill, was outstanding to see."

Listul amassed 46 assists and Roelike and Bodin had nine digs apiece.

Ridgewater 3, Rochester 0

Rochester..............................25 25 33

Ridgewater............................17 23 31

(Key: good-attempts-aces)


Statistics not available


Serving: Stephanie Tillman 10-14-0, Darcie Listul 11-11-0, Emily Roelike 9-10-0, Brandi Bodin 11-12-1, Karie Blommel 20-21-1, Macy McKay 7-7-0, Brianna Jacobson 3-4-2 ... Setting (assists): Listul 46, Tillman 1, Bodin 1, McKay 1 ... Hitting: Tillman 14-18-5, Listul 3-3-1, Roelike 25-28-17, Blommel 38-45-14, Alison Mason 7-9-4, McKay 22-23-10, Jacobson 5-6-2 ... Blocking (aces): Tillman 2, Blommel 1, Mason 2, McKay 2 ... Digs: Tillman 2, Listul 6, Roelike 9, Bodin 9, Blommel 7, McKay 7, Jacobson 1