Ridgewater denied second straight national volleyball title

ROCHESTER -- The NJCAA Division III championship trophy remains in Minnesota, just not Willmar. Brainerd has it. Central Lakes College whipped the Ridgewater Lady Warriors in the title match Saturday 28-30, 30-22, 31-29 and 31-29. Ridgewater was ...

ROCHESTER -- The NJCAA Division III championship trophy remains in Minnesota, just not Willmar.

Brainerd has it.

Central Lakes College whipped the Ridgewater Lady Warriors in the title match Saturday 28-30, 30-22, 31-29 and 31-29.

Ridgewater was the defending champion, the No. 1 seed and the top-rated team in DIII all season.

Throughout the fall campaign, the No. 2-ranked Raiders were in the Lady Warriors' shadow, though not by much. They had led Ridgewater 2-0 in the state championship match at Willmar on Oct. 28 only to lose 3-2.


A year earlier Central beat Ridgewater in the state championship match but lost to the Lady Warriors in the semifinals at nationals, also played at Rochester Community and Technical College.

"If we have to lose to anyone, I'm glad it's Central Lakes," said Ridgewater coach Joe Sussenguth. "Both programs respect each other so much."

Central Lakes' setter/hitter Lisa Kurtz, a sophomore from Pierz, was named tournament MVP.

Ridgewater had four selected to the all-tournament team: sophomore libero/hitter Ashley Hennen, sophomore outside hitter Brittany TerWisscha, sophomore middle hitter Hilary Groothuis and freshman setter Carina Fesenmaier.

Ridgewater knocked out No. 3 seed Brookhaven College of Farmers Branch, Texas, in the semifinals 20-30, 30-22, 30-24 and 30-26.

The Lady Warriors won the first game of the final 30-28 but their control of the match was tenuous.

"We were fortunate to win the first game," said Sussenguth. "Most of the time we were playing from behind. In games three and four it was back-and- forth but it seemed we were always down one or two points and sometimes three or four."

Central Lakes' launched a "soft attack," emphasizing patience and placement.


Everything had been up tempo slams against Brookhaven.

"Central Lakes tipped us to death," said Sussenguth. "We had trouble adjusting to the pace. They slowed down the serving, going high, short or deep, and they were able to find a way around our blockers with tip and roll shots."

Sussenguth gave full credit to the Raiders and coach Jane Peterson.

"I don't think they were a team that was better than us, but they executed their plan and we couldn't find a way to break them. But it was a great match and a great tournament. I'm proud of these girls."

The loss was the Lady Warriors' first to a Division III college. All others were to DI or DII schools.

Ridgewater finishes 33-9 after going 33-5 while winning the national title in the first year under Sussenguth. The Lady Warriors were national runners-up in 2005 in Val Swanson's final year.

Ridgewater College 3, Brookhaven (Texas) College 1

Hennen, who was all-tourney for the second year in a row, had 31 digs to fend off Brookhaven's wallops. In a balanced offense, TerWisscha and Leah Miller had 15 kills each, Groothuis 13 and Jordan Olerud 12.


Ridgewater (33-8) 20 30 30 30

Brookhaven (25-23) 30 22 24 26

(Key: good-attempts-aces)

Ridgewater College

Serving: Brittany TerWisscha 15-18-0, Ashley Hennen 21-22-1, Leah Miller 15-16-1, Jordan Olerud 18-19-3, Carina Fesenmaier 13-15-1, Hilary Groothuis 7-8-0 ... Setting (assists): Fesenmaier 48 ... Hitting: TerWisscha 49-52-15, Miller 37-39-15, Jordan Olerud 31-35-12, Jackie Noyes 11-12-6, Groothuis 32-36-13 ... Blocking (aces): Groothuis 2, Noyes 2, Olerud 1, TerWisscha 1 ... Digs: TerWisscha 5, Miller 15, Hennen 31, Jenna Olson 9, Olerud 23, Fesenmaier 8

Brookhaven College

Statistics not available

Central Lakes College 3, Ridgewater College 1


Fesenmaier, who played for Sauk Rapids last season, had 95 set assists in the two matches.

But Ridgewater's offense didn't run smoothly against Central.

"We didn't serve-receive and pass that well,'" said Sussenguth. "Maybe one of three passes was on target so Carina was moving off the net and we couldn't get our hitters involved the way we wanted, especially Jackie Noyes."

The 6-1 middle hitter got only 18 attempts for six kills. TerWisscha finished with 18 kills and Olerud and Groothuis 12 each.

Hennen had 26 digs and defensive specialist Jenna Olson nine.

"Mentally and physically it takes a lot out of you playing from behind the entire match," said Sussenguth. "But we played hard and it's a thrill for all of us, I think, just to be in a position to play for the championship."

Ridgewater (34-8) 30 22 29 29

Central Lakes (34-7) 28 30 31 31


(Key: good-attempts-aces)


Serving: Brittany TerWisscha 12-13-1, Ashley Hennen 24-26-2, Leah Miller 15-15-2, Jordan Olerud 15-15-2, Carina Fesenmaier 18-18-0, Hilary Groothuis 8-9-1 ... Setting (assists): Carina Fesenmaier 47 ... Hitting: TerWisscha 45-50-18, Miller 28-32-7, Jordan Olerud 38-43-12, Jackie Noyes 17-18-6, Groothuis 24-28-12 ... Blocking (aces): Groothuis 2, Noyes 2, Miller 1, TerWisscha 1 ... Digs: TerWisscha 4, Miller 9, Ashley Hennen 26, Jenna Olson 9, Olerud 10, Fesenmaier 11

Central Lakes College

Statistics not available

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