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MW VOLLEYBALL: Lady Jays fall to Warriors

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Lady Jays Katey Granstra (13) and Brittany Hulstein (4) stuff the kill attempt by Ridgewater's Cassie Ziemer (9) during Wednesday night's game in Worthington.1 / 2
BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Lady Jay Christine Kazemba sets the ball as teammate Madie Rasche looks on during Wednes-day night's game in Worthington.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- The Lady Jays fell to the Ridgewater Warriors in four sets Wednesday night in Worthington.

In the first game, Ridgewater jumped out to an early 9-2 lead with the help of three side-outs, five kills and an ace. But MW battled back to tie the game at 20-20 on with the help of five side-outs by the Warriors along with an ace.

"The girls were very excited to come out and play in that first game," Lady Jays coach Marie Johnson said. "They came out ready to play their game."

The Lady Jays took their first lead of the game on a kill from Brittany Hulstein (8 kills, 2 aces, 17 digs) to go ahead 21-20. Ridgewater tied the game on the next point with a kill by Alicia Koenen, but MW picked up three straight points to go up 24-21.

"Our blocking was right up there and our digging and serve/receive were great in that first game," MW's Madie Rasche (3 aces, 15 digs) said. "We had a lot of energy in that first game which helped us get the win."

The Warriors tried to make a comeback, picking up two points in a row to come within one of tying the game, but the Lady Jays shut the door on a kill by Katey Granstra (17 kills, 4 blocks) to win Game 1.

"Leading up to this game we talked about intensity and staying focused on the game of volleyball all the way through a game," Johnson said. "Volleyball is really a mental sport and they have to stay focused and intense while working as a team the whole time."

The Lady Jays rattled off three straight points to start Game 2, but the lead didn't last long. Ridgewater overtook the lead on a block from its front line and never looked back.

"It gave us some momentum, but we just came out just a little bit quieter," Johnson said. "We've talked about coming together as a team in the middle, coming together as a team. In the second game, that kind of took a step back. They weren't as team focused and didn't have the same intensity level as they did in the first game."

The Warriors picked up the 25-17 win in Game 2 on a kill by Cassie Ziemer that beat the Lady Jay block up front.

"I think that our energy level went down a lot," Rasche said. "I think we were kind of content with the first game. Ridgewater is a tough team, so I think they just came out the second game ready to go. I think they were kind of upset we won the first game."

Game 3 went much the same way as Game 2, with MW picking up the first point of the match only to loss the lead shortly after. The Lady Jays tried to keep it close, picking up six straight points, only to have the Warriors go on a run of their own to pull away.

"We were kind of stuck on our feet," Rasche said. "We weren't moving. We weren't talking. We weren't communicating at all with each other. Our servers weren't going where they were supposed to go, but Ridgewater is a good team."

Ridgewater took Game 3 25-17 to go ahead two games to one heading into Game 4.

"I wanted our girls to make sure they were mixing up their hits," Johnson said. "Not always swinging away and not always tipping; yet, doing some of both. Once you get in the habit of doing just one, the other team picks up on that and it makes it easier for them."

Just as in Game 2 and 3, MW picked up the first point, but Ridgewater quickly erased the slim lead.

With the Lady Jays trailing 15-10, the Warriors decided to go for the kill, taking 10 of the next 14 points to win Game 4 and the match.

"Going forward, I think once we get momentum we have to keep going with it," Rasche said. "If we can do that it will help us improve."

The Lady Jays are back in action Friday at 6:30 p.m. against the Riverland Blue Devils in Worthington.

Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi

may be reached at 376-7335.