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College volleyball: Rochester tops Lady Jays, 3-0

Lady Jays Haley Unke (5) and Shelby Pourier (8) leap up in an attempt to stop a spike from the Rochester Yellowjackets' Mariah Steinbach (14). (Tim Middagh / The Globe)1 / 3
Minnesota West's Kiana Leighty (7) spikes the ball Wednesday night against Rochester. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)2 / 3
Minnesota West volleyball head coach Rebecca Colon (left) addresses the team in between games against Rochester. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)3 / 3

WORTHINGTON -- A relentless offensive barrage led by freshman Carrie Rutledge, effective blocking, consistent setting and a court awareness that their counterparts just couldn’t match led to a 3-0 Rochester Community College volleyball victory on the floor of Minnesota West Wednesday night.

The Yellowjackets stung hard, and managed to turn back every threat the Lady Jays mounted, for a 25-19, 25-17, 26-24 win that had Jays head coach Rebecca Colon and her players second-guessing themselves.

“Teamwork wasn’t there,” Colon said after the match. The players lacked attitude. They didn’t play with enough energy and emotion.

“As soon as somebody screws up, they just put their head down. … Everybody has to have a team mentality and play the hardest for their team,” she said.

The Yellowjackets’ win pushed them to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Southern Division standings. With the loss, the Lady Jays dropped to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in division play.

Besides a winning fire, Rochester also had the deeper team, with seven reserves on hand. Minnesota West had just seven players suit up.

Rutledge, a freshman from Hayfield, and West’s Emily Shaffer exhibited effective hitting at the net early in the first game. But the Yellowjackets prevailed, in part, due to a deeper front line. West has three solid hitters in Shaffer, Andrea Hinkeldey and Kiana Leighty, but they weren’t afforded as many opportunities to get into a rhythm.

Then in the second game, Rutledge and another Hayfield freshman, Alexis Dudycha, came down hard together with winning spikes. Again, the West offense was inconsistent. The diggers were not bumping balls well enough to allow for consistently good sets. An 11-3 Rochester lead was whittled down to 13-12, but the comeback fell short.

The third game was the best for Minnesota West. The Jays led 7-4 on a beautifully-aimed ace tip by Hinkeldey and maintained the lead until Rochester evened it up at 13-13. It was 17-17 before the Jackets went on a mini-run.

West fought back from a 20-23 deficit. Shaffer hit an off-speed ace to cut Rochester’s lead to 24-23, then the Jays’ Shelby Pourier delivered an ace serve to tie it at 24-all. But a Rutledge ace hit and a Hinkeldey hit attempt that sailed too long ended the match.

Hinkeldey finished with 15 kills on 33 kill attempts. Leighty made eight kills on 22 attacks.

Shaffer had four blocks and Hinkeldey had 12 digs. Haley Unke was credited with 24 set assists.

Colon’s post-game comments were pointed. She said the team has to work harder in practice.

“Energy is created on the court, it’s as simple as that,” she said.

Hinkeldey said Colon urged them to “figure it out.” But nobody was able to step up and do it.

“The hard part for us is we know we’re a good team. But we weren’t doing the little things. And we know we’ve gotta do the little things to make it come out right,” Hinkeldey said. “We beat ourselves. They didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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