MN WEST VOLLEYBALL: Warriors sink Lady Jays

WORTHINGTON -- Kelsey Wolthuizen thought Ridgewater was overlooking the Lady Jays. She made sure the Warriors knew it wasn't going to be easy. Led by Wolthuizen's all-around night, the Minnesota West volleyball team stormed to a win in Game 1 Wed...

MW's Skorepa
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Lady Jay Kristina Skorepa (12) spikes the ball during Wednesday night Minnesota West volleyball action in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Kelsey Wolthuizen thought Ridgewater was overlooking the Lady Jays.

She made sure the Warriors knew it wasn't going to be easy.

Led by Wolthuizen's all-around night, the Minnesota West volleyball team stormed to a win in Game 1 Wednesday night, but Ridgewater showed why it's rated No. 1 in the nation by winning the next three games for the Southern Division victory.

"The first game, we were fired up and ready to go," Wolthuizen said following the Lady Jays' 21-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-10 loss. "Ridgewater is always big. I knew they were going to underestimate us, we all did. And that's exactly what they did. The second game, we were a little shaky, we came back but stuff didn't really fall for us. Our blocking was good, our digging was good and our passing was good, but we didn't have some stuff fall for us. In the third game, I think we just got a little tired. We didn't talk very much, and it was kind of the same thing in the fourth."

Wolthuizen played her best match of the season against the best competition.


The freshman from Edgerton had a team-high six kills to go with 12 total blocks and two ace blocks.

"With the blocking, I really got into the groove of reading their shoulder and I had good timing," Wolthuizen said. "Hitting, I kind of found some open spots and tried to hit the ball as good as I could. It was kind of clicking tonight for me.

"I think I was a little rusty at the beginning of the season. But I think tonight it all went together for me and I have to keep playing more like this, keep playing hard and keep my blocks up."

Entering Wednesday's game, Minnesota West was riding momentum from last Friday's victory -- the first of the season for the Lady Jays.

"They actually got a taste of what winning actually feels like," MW head coach Marie Johnson said. "It wasn't just this thing they were reaching for anymore. We have that win under our belt and they believed again that they could do it. All along, they've said, 'Yes, we can win, we're going to win and this is our game.' But actually seeing that they accomplished winning a match made them excited. They saw all the things they did right and tried to build off those. I think they did a great job that first game of building off of Friday night's win against Riverland."

The Warriors (16-0) jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in Game 1 before Katherine Kazemba (9-for-9 serving with one ace, four kills and 15 digs) put away a free ball to knot the score at 2-all.

MW didn't trail again against the No. 1-rated team in the NJCAA.

"We weren't really intimidated, just kind of, 'We're going to do our best and see what happens,"' Wolthuizen said. "We'll give it our all and hopefully come out with a win. We did and that was huge to us that we got at least one win over them."


Ridgewater was within one point, 6-5, before the Lady Jays made a game-changing run.

Led by a tip by Michaela Wolff (19 set assists) and a hit by Wolthuizen, MW went on a 7-0 run to take a 13-5 lead.

"I think that first game, they came out and they were underestimating us," Johnson said. "As you saw, toward the end of the first game even, I think they saw they had to pick it up more than what they were doing. Right in the beginning, I think they thought they could relax a little bit playing us and we showed them that we are a team to be reckoned with and we can compete with some of the best out there."

Ridgewater climbed back within three points, 13-10, before MW answered with another long run.

Sparked with kills by Kazemba and Alyson Drooger (six blocks), West opened up a 19-11 advantage.

The Warriors rallied back to 21-20 after a kill by Macy McKay, but the Lady Jays scored four of the next five points for the 25-21 victory.

"That's huge for us," Wolthuizen said of the Game 1 win. "I think a lot of people underestimate us, especially with our record right now and only one win. We can play with anyone and we showed that with Ridgewater."

The Warriors started hot in Game 2, taking an early 6-1 lead.


However, the Lady Jays had a nice run, aided by a Kristina Skorepa (three kills, five blocks) hit as West was within one, 8-7.

"Those little spurts, we want to see throughout the entire game," Johnson said. "By the end of the fourth game, we were looking tired. I thought we were running out of gas. They just needed to push themselves a little bit more. But they came back. They didn't give up, the score doesn't show that the girls kept playing and kept their heads up. There were some long volleys and some points just did not drop in our favor."

The Lady Jays hung around, and after consecutive kills by Wolthuizen, still trailed by one, 12-11.

But then it was Ridgewater's turn to make a game-changing run. A 9-3 run gave the Warriors a 21-14 lead en route to a 25-17 Game 2 victory.

West had a 2-1 lead early in Game 3 and trailed by four (18-14) late, but Ridgewater scored seven of the final eight points in a 25-15 win.

A tip by Hannah Smith gave the Warriors a 10-1 lead early in Game 4 and the Lady Jays never recovered in a 25-10 defeat.

"We're going to work on what we need to work on and I think one win over them is definitely going to keep us motivated against Rochester," Wolthuizen said. "They are pretty big and we know we can compete with them. We showed it tonight, we can play with anyone."

Things don't get easier for the Lady Jays.


Friday, they travel to face Rochester, who is rated No. 3 in the NJCAA.

"Ridgewater and Rochester are some of the toughest competition we'll see in our conference," Johnson said. "We're ready. They're pretty excited to play them, this will be the third time seeing them this season. We know what they have and we're ready to play with them."

MW's Drooger
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Lady Jay Alyson Drooger hits around Ridgewater defenders Hannah Smith (10) and Maggie Zirk (13) during Wednesday night action in Worthington.

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