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College volleyball: Warriors run into a buzzsaw

Ridgewater falls to seventh-ranked MS-Fergus Falls in three sets.

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Warriors sophomore libero Tayler Schmidt digs a ball during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Minnesota State-Fergus Falls traveled to face Ridgewater and showed the West Central area why it is a top NJCAA Division III volleyball team in the nation, sweeping the Warriors in three sets Wednesday evening.

The Spartans, who rank No. 7 in the nation through three weeks of polls, earned a quick 25-3 victory in set one and rode that momentum until the end of the match.

MS-Fergus Falls earned the sweep after defeating the Warriors 25-20 and 25-20.

The No. 7 nationally-ranked Spartans swept Ridgewater.

“We were disappointed with the first set. We did not play to our caliber and we did not play connected,” Warriors head coach Amanda Bohlsen said. “We now know what we need to work on and we aspire to be ranked No. 7 one day.”

With the way set one unfolded, it would have been easy for the Warriors to chalk it up and allow the Spartans to run all over them. However, they never gave up despite the sweep and played competitively in sets two and three.

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Warriors sophomore outside hitter Adelia Pierson spikes the ball during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

“The second and third sets, I am happy with,” Bohlsen said. “The team needs to be proud of themselves and realize that not a lot of teams could have come back out and competed after that first set.”

Sophomore right-side hitter Harley Kunstleben paced the Warriors. She tied freshman outside hitter Jenna Kunerth and sophomore captain/outside hitter Adelia Pierson for a team-high five kills, adding six digs, three set assists and two block aces.

“Harley leads by example, but she is encouraging as well,” Bohlsen said of Kunstleben, who is one of three captains for the Warriors. “She has come out of her shell this year. She’s confident in herself and her abilities.”

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Warriors freshman middle hitter Yansi Flores smiles at head coach Amanda Bohlsen during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Defensively, sophomore captain/libero Tayler Schmidt and freshman setter Olivia Naatjes recorded double-digits in digs. Schmidt led with 22 and Naatjes tallied 15.

“The core group that we played tonight — they are really gaining connection and they’re trusting each other,” Bohlsen said. “I think without that trust, they wouldn’t have been able to come back on the court.”

The Warriors (2-5) host Century College at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Ridgewater College for their fourth Minnesota College Athletic Conference match of the season.

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Warriors freshman right-side hitter Gabby Randt prepares for a serve-receive during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

MS-Fergus Falls 3, Ridgewater 0

MS-Fergus Falls (8-4)     25   25   25
Ridgewater (2-5)              3    20   20

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MS-Fergus Falls
Stats unavailable

Ridgewater
Serving (aces): Elizabeth Koenen 1, Gabby Randt 1 … Set assists: Olivia Naatjes 15, Harley Kunstleben 3, Yansi Flores 1, Hallye Foster 1 … Hitting (kills): Kunstleben 5, Jenna Kunerth 5, Adelia Pierson 5, Randt 4, Flores 2, Morgan Hoffmann 1, Julia Schweiss 1 … Blocking (aces): Randt 2, Kunstleben 2, Flores 1 … Digs (5 or more): Tayler Schmidt 22, Naatjes 15, Kunstleben 6, Hoffmann 5

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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