Lady Warriors are national champs
ROCHESTER -- The Lady Warriors are national champions again. For the second time in five seasons, Ridgewater captured the NJCAA Division III national tournament title. The Lady Warriors beat Brookhaven (Texas) 25-23, 21-25, 23-25, 25-21, 16-14 Sa...
ROCHESTER -- The Lady Warriors are national champions again.
For the second time in five seasons, Ridgewater captured the NJCAA Division III national tournament title. The Lady Warriors beat Brookhaven (Texas) 25-23, 21-25, 23-25, 25-21, 16-14 Saturday.
Ridgewater coach Joe Sussenguth, who won the 2006 national title in his first year at the junior college, claimed the match was the best he's ever seen.
"The last match was an epic battle and I don't think we'll ever see anything like that again," he said.
Tied at two sets each, the Lady Warriors (34-4) fell into a 4-1 hole early, mainly due to Brookhaven's defense. Ridgewater rallied to get within 8-6, but the Bears regained the momentum to take a 12-8 lead.
Long rallies dominated the next few points and the Lady Warriors were able to score three straight points.
Ridgewater tied the final set at 14-14 and was able to take advantage of the few Brookhaven mistakes.
"There were a couple of overpasses that Brianna Jacobson worked to the back left corner for a couple of kills," said Sussenguth.
Maggie Zirk gave Ridgewater the national title with an ace block, one of her team-leading six solos.
"We played to the best of our ability against a team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of the season," Sussenguth noted. "You can't ask for much more from a team."
The Lady Warriors' coach described the first four sets as "carbon copies", and the scores reflect his remark. Neither team won a set by more than four points. Ridgewater won the first set, but the Bears were able to close out the next two to take the lead. Relying on their defense, the Lady Warriors went on a run at the end of the fourth set to force the winner-take-all fifth set.
"We did the little things like backing up on the block," Sussenguth said. "It was probably the most complete volleyball match I've ever seen."
Sophomore Emily Roelike, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, led the Lady Warriors with 24 kills and had an impressive .407 kill percentage. Freshman Hannah Smith followed with 19 kills and sophomore Macy McKay added 14. Freshman setter Molly Hurrle had 66 assists. All four were named to the all-tournament team.
Freshman Aimee Johnson recorded 18 digs, sophomore Brandi Bodin had 13 and Smith 11.
Losing in the championship match last season proved to be the motivating factor for this season's Lady Warriors.
"This is something we built our season on," Sussenguth said. "The sophomores returning have had this season and this match in mind since the end of last season.
"There's no quit in this team. You could turn off the scoreboard and this team would keep playing."
Ridgewater 3, Brookhaven 2
Ridgewater (34-4) 25 21 23 25 16
Brookhaven 23 25 25 21 14
Serving: Macy McKay 14-17-0, Aimee Johnson 15-16-0, Molly Hurrle 16-17-0, Emily Roelike 13-13-1, Brandi Bodin 14-15-1, Hannah Smith 18-19-1 ... Setting (assists): Hurrle 66, Maggie Zirk 2 ... Hitting: McKay 36-40-14, Hurrle 3-4-2, Roelike 59-59-24, Brandi Bodin 1-1-0, Smith 49-56-19, Zirk 9-10-7, Brianna Jacobson 19-21-6 ... Blocking (total): McKay 4, Hurrle 1, Smith 2, Zirk 6, Jacobson 3 ... Digs: McKay 7, Johnson 18, Hurrle 5, Roelike 8, Bodin 13, Smith 11
Statistics not reported