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Lady Devils win a game, but lose match

Riverland is competitive with outstanding Ridgewater

By Scott A. Kolb

skolb@postbulletin.com

Taking one game from the second-ranked volleyball team in the nation on Wednesday night wasn’t quite enough to produce an upset for the Riverland Lady Blue Devils.

The match against Ridgewater was hotly contested throughout the four games, but the Riverland women couldn’t pull it out. After losing the opening game 25-19, the Lady Devils came back to tie the match with a 25-17 win in the second game.

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Ridgewater then scored the first three points of the crucial third game and went on to win 25-16. This gave the visiting Lady Warriors control of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference, South Division match and they closed it out with a 25-21 win in the fourth game.

"Even though they beat us, I noticed a definite change in the atmosphere for our team," Riverland coach Helen Jahr said. "We weren’t intimidated by them and it was mainly our errors that cost us the match. Those can be corrected and I’m pleased with the way we played. We have good hitters and they generated some offense."

Not only did they control the action at the net in the second game, the Riverland women also used the ace serve to win the game. Ashleigh Smith got things rolling for the Lady Devils with an ace for the opening point of the second game.

There was a good-sized crowd on hand for the divisional opener, and they were treated to a highly competitive match. The home fans really got into the spirit of the battle when Ashley Lau went on a big service run to propel the Lady Devils into the lead.

Lau took the serve with her team trailing 3-2 and promptly reeled off seven straight winners. Lau had a trio of aces during this decisive run and the home team took control of the game. The Lady Warriors made a comeback, but they never got closer than three points the rest of the way.

"We’ve been working on her jump serve, and Ashley gave us a lot of momentum with that run at the line," coach Jahr said. "We stayed with them the whole way, but key mistakes cost us some points in the last two games."

Riverland fell behind early in the third game and couldn’t catch up to Ridgewater. Despite the loss in the third game, the Lady Devils served notice that they wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Tiffany Preuss fired an ace serve to bring her team back to 14-9. After the teams traded a few points, Smith stepped to the line and hit successive winners. Lau had a kill and a service winner from Smith brought the Lady Devils to within 16-12, but they couldn’t get any closer.

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The fourth and final game once again started with an early lead for the visitors. This time the home team came storming back and erased the deficit.

Krissy Schemmel fired in a pair of service winners and Riverland held a 4-3 lead. The game would then become a see-saw affair with a number of long volleys.

Brooke Monson of Riverland delivered an ace serve to tie the game at 15-all. Kelly Hendricks then had a spike to give Riverland the lead. Ridgewater came back with two straight points and retook the lead.

Kate Krough rallied the Lady Devils with a service winner to give them their last lead. Lau had a kill off the serve by Krough and Riverland led 17-16. Ridgewater next scored three points in a row and took the lead for good. Krough added a late kill, but it wasn’t enough for the Lady Devils to stave off defeat.

"We matched the intensity of their hitters at the net, but I would’ve liked to seen more shots go to the middle," Jahr concluded. "They had a lot of hard hits and we did a good job with the digs, but because of that our passing led to more shots from the outside. It was a solid effort against one of the best teams in the country and we had our chances to get the win."

Statistics for Riverland included: Monson 3 kills, 2 blocks; Preuss 12 set assists; Schemmel 11 set assists, 15 digs; Lau 15 digs, 10 kills, 3 aces; Krough 17 digs, 7 kills; and Smith with 2 ace serves.

Riverland (4-1, 0-1 MCAC South) plays Fergus Falls at home Friday night and then goes on the road for the Rochester Community and Technical College Invitational on Saturday.

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