Ridgewater captures junior college volleyball title
ROCHESTER -- With tournament MVP Ashley Olson leading the way, the Ridgewater Lady Warriors are the new champions of NJCAA Division III volleyball. The No. 3 seed upset No. 1 Central Lakes of Brainerd in the semifinals 31-29, 26-30, 30-27 and 30-...
ROCHESTER -- With tournament MVP Ashley Olson leading the way, the Ridgewater Lady Warriors are the new champions of NJCAA Division III volleyball.
The No. 3 seed upset No. 1 Central Lakes of Brainerd in the semifinals 31-29, 26-30, 30-27 and 30-23, then beat Edison Community College of Pique, Ohio, 30-21, 30-25, 30-22 in Saturday's final.
It's the second national championship for Ridgewater in five years.
"The Edison match was probably the most complete match we played all year," said Joe Sussenguth, who was the "Coach of the Tournament" in his first year of college coaching.
Olson, Jackie Noyes, and Hilary Groothuis each had 10 kills and Kayla Powers nine in the final.
"I think anyone on the all-tournament team and a few besides could have legitimately been named MVP," said Sussenguth, "We had a total team effort, but Ashley just works so hard. She is such an aggressive hitter."
The 5-7 hitter from Murdock (KMS) logged 49 kills and 19 ace serves in five matches.
Laura Suter, Olson's former teammate on the Fighting Saints, had 54 set assists in the semifinal win over arch-rival Central Lakes, plus another 40 in the final. She was averaging 11.2 sets per game, first in DIII.
"Laura did such a good job spreading the floor and getting the ball to all of our hitters," said Sussenguth, referring to the Edison match. "Ashley Hennen and Brittany Haas played so well getting Laura the ball. They were digging and diving all over. It was a spectacular effort."
Ridgewater lost 2-1 to Brookhaven in Friday's pool play. Surprisingly, Edison, seeded No. 5, mowed down No. 2 seed Brookhaven in the other semifinal 30-24, 30-22, 30-20.
Ridgewater's four wins at nationals gave them a final record of 35-4.
"The best moment was watching (our players') faces and their expressions when it was over," said Sussenguth. "Our girls had played 17 games in a little over 24 hours and were pretty exhausted.
Ridgewater College 3, Central Lakes College 1
The Lady Warriors avenged the loss to the Raiders in the MCCC state championship at Willmar three weeks earlier.
"It was so important (for us) to win that first game, but we knew Central Lakes would respond," said Sussenguth.
Knotted 1-1 in games, Ridgewater servers aimed to the right back corner. That forced the Brainerd setters off the net and into long passes cross court to the left-side hitter where the Lady Warriors could establish defensive superiority. Five Noyes' blocks were aces.
Offensively, Olson had 19 kills and Groothuis 16. Olson had 28 digs, Haas 24, Hennen 23 and Suter 20.
The Raiders went on to defeat Brookhaven 3-2 for third place.
Central Lakes (32-4)...............................29 30 27 23
Ridgewater (34-4)..................................31 26 30 30
Central Lakes College
No statistics available
Serving: Ashley Olson 21-24-3, Ashley Hennen 19-22-1, Brittany Haas 2-2-0, Amy Ballard 19-21-1, Jackie Noyes 17-17-1, Laura Suter 19-21-2, Hilary Groothuis 6-9-1 ... Setting: Suter 142-144-54 ... Hitting: A. Olson 40-44-19, Hennen 34-36-10, Kayla Powers 15-16-5, Noyes 26-27-8, Suter 12-13-5, Groothuis 42-46-16 ... Blocking (aces): Hennen 2, Powers 2, Noyes 5, Suter 1, Groothuis 3... Digs: A. Olson 28, Hennen 23, Haas 24, Ballard 13, Powers 3, Noyes 4, Suter 20, Groothuis 6
Ridgewater College 3, Edison (Ohio) CC 0
Edison stunned Brookhaven in the opener coming from 11 points down in the first game to win 30-24. The Lady Bears never recovered.
Ridgewater never gave Edison much chance to build momentum.
"We noticed they're not a great passing team and we're aggressive serving, so that was in our favor," said Sussenguth. "Edison was very athletic, but we played our most balance game all year."
Groothuis made six ace blocks. Olson, Hennen, Haas and Noyes led the defensive saves. Amy Ballard had two more ace serves to finish with 10 for the tournament.
Edison (Ohio) CC (28-7)................................21 25 22
Ridgewater (35-4)......................................30 30 30
Edison (Ohio) CC
No statistics available
Serving: Ashley Olson 15-16-2, Ashley Hennen 12-13-1, Amy Ballard 18-19-2, Jackie Noyes 15-16-0, Laura Suter 12-14-0, Hilary Groothuis 8-9-1 ... Setting: Suter 109-113-40 ... Hitting: A. Olson 30-33-10, Hennen 18-20-7, Brittany Haas 1-1-0, Kayla Powers 19-20-9, Noyes 26-26-10, Suter 7-7-3, Groothuis 25-25-10... Blocking (aces): Hennen 1, Noyes 1, Suter 2, Groothuis 6 ... Digs: A. Olson 21, Hennen 18, Haas 15, Ballard 7, Powers 1, Noyes 9, Suter 15