Lady Jays dig, spike way past Ridgewater
A spirited Minnesota West volleyball team won three straight sets Friday night at the college’s Center for Health and Wellness in Worthington, beating Ridgewater in four, 17-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-16.
WORTHINGTON -- A spirited Minnesota West volleyball team won three straight sets Friday night at the college’s Center for Health and Wellness in Worthington , beating Ridgewater in four, 17-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-16.
The start was poor. But as soon as the second set commenced, the Lady Jays were a completely different team. They maintained their edge the rest of the way.
“For us, it’s more like conversation. “At the beginning of the season we didn’t know each other well enough. Now we have fun,” said sophomore hitter Caralis Ramos.
“I just think we have fun. There’s games we don’t have fun and we’re kind of frustrated. … We joke around. Not that much, ‘cuz coach would kill us. We kind of get loose, so we just flow better.”
Winning is fun. And for the Lady Jays, fun helps the team win. With Friday’s victory, they improved to 8-12 on the season while dropping the Warriors to 10-9.
The Jays weren’t having a whole lot of fun in the first set. They seemed slow to react in the early going, and their bumping was inconsistent, keeping the offense from getting into a rhythm.
But in the second set, everything improved quickly. Freshman outside hitter Kennedy Buckneberg began to hit with authority at the net -- and that’s always a good sign. The back row digging improved dramatically, led by freshman Julia Russel’s activities there. And the blocking, too, was much better.
“Julia played both middle back positions in that second game. So that helped. The consistency we get from her -- we rely on her. She’s our eyes on the court,” said head coach Brittney McNab.
Russel finished with 26 digs for the match, and some of them were spectacular.
“I do like doing that (playing both back positions),” Russel said. “It’s really fun. I don’t lose momentum. I get to be in the whole game, making connections. And I like to dive.”
Buckneberg finished with a team-high 15 kills while Emily Dunlop added eight and Shelby Christensen had seven. Emma Keith contributed 22 set assists and was 18-for-19 at the service line with one ace. Taya Mason had 15 set assists and was 20-for-22 serving. Christensen also had 22 digs.
“They definitely played together,” said McNab. “Like, we helped each other out. We also let (Ridgewater) make mistakes.”
Before the match, said Russel, McNab told her players that she’s seldom beaten Ridgewater in her coaching career. So the Lady Jays , who have two more matches remaining on the regular season schedule (including a home match with MState-Fergus Falls on Saturday beginning at noon) were anxious to do well.
“We really wanted to make a play tonight, and we really want to finish the season strong,” Russel said.