MW VOLLEYBALL: Lady Jays fleeced by Rams

WORTHINGTON -- Playing against one of the best junior college volleyball teams in the Southern Division Wednesday evening, Minnesota West played well early on and earned a 6-3 lead on the visiting Anoka-Ramsey Golden Rams.

MW's Kazemba
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Lady Jay Katherine Kazemba (15) blasts a kill through Anoka-Ramsey defenders Alysha Reinhardt (11) and Bethany Peterson (17) during Wednesday night volleyball action at Minnesota West in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Playing against one of the best junior college volleyball teams in the Southern Division Wednesday evening, Minnesota West played well early on and earned a 6-3 lead on the visiting Anoka-Ramsey Golden Rams.

But, after a timeout by A-R head coach Ashley Olson, the tide of the match quickly changed and a 7-0 run by the Rams eventually led to a sweep over the Lady Jays.

Game scores were 25-12, 25-12 and 25-13.

"We came out strong and made several good plays," praised MW first-year head coach Marie Johnson. "But things changed quickly, once they (the Rams) got rolling."

Tied at 3-3 in Game 1, the Lady Jays scored three straight points and looked to be in command.


The MW surge started when freshman outside hitter Katherine Kazemba (team-high 18 hits, three kills) pounded the ball off a Rams' defender.

Sophomore middle hitter Kristina Skorepa (14 hits, team-high six kills) took a nice set from freshman Michaela Wolff (nine assists) and put the ball to an open spot on the floor, giving the Lady Jays a 5-3 edge.

Freshman middle hitter Kelsey Wolthuizen delivered an ace serve and MW was looking good, leading 6-3.

At that point, Olson stood up and called timeout.

"My girls got yelled at a bit," Olson said about the first timeout of the match. "We were lazy, not being aggressive."

Coming out the break, the Rams serve received and passed better, getting the ball to tall (six-foot-two) and talented freshman Alysha Reinhardt, who hammered numerous spikes to open spots on the court, lifting A-R to a 10-6 advantage before MW scored again.

"We need to get Alysha the ball, that's a key for us," Olson said. "She had several big kills in a row which sure sparked us."

With Reinhardt -- an All-State high school volleyball player from Coon Rapids -- dominating the net, the Rams opened up leads of 12-7, 14-9 and 21-10 before MW could score consecutive points.


Reinhardt finished the match with 20 kills in 30 attempts with no errors. She also had eight of her team's 14 ace blocks over the three games.

"That's the best we've ever blocked," praised Olson. "The first time we played (MW), we hardly had any blocks. But this time, we were able to stop lots of their attacks."

A well-placed kill by Wolthuizen (12 hits, three kills), followed by a thundering hit by Kazemba -- which was dug up by the Rams -- and answered by another fine play at the net by Wolthuizen made the score 21-12.

"Our girls continued to battle hard in each game," Johnson declared about the effort of the Lady Jays. "We never went down easy."

The Rams, however, were able to score four straight points and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

MW earns early 3-2 edge in Game 2

Game 2 started out similar to the first set, as the Lady Jays rallied from a 2-0 deficit with three quick points, earning a 3-2 edge.

With Kazemba hitting the ball hard, Skorepa ended up scoring with a well-placed, two-handed tip and Wolff (11-of-12 serving, two aces) delivered an ace serve to tie the score.


A drive by freshman right-side hitter Alyson Drooger ((11 hits, two kills) led to an A-R error and MW was up 3-2.

The Rams, however, bounced back with a 10-3 run and held a 12-6 advantage when the Lady Jays came up with a dandy play to earn a point off a long rally.

A bump set by Wolff to sophomore outside hitter Katie Hadler -- for a left-side kill -- made the score 12-7.

"We were able to get into several long vollies or rallies and won a few of them," Johnson noted. "I was very happy with how we never gave up and came up with some nice plays like that one."

Olson agreed with Johnson.

"They (MW) played aggressively and didn't let balls hit the floor easily," the Rams' coach said. "They played with a lot of heart and made us earn the stuff we got."

The Rams did their share of keeping the ball off the floor, too, as evidenced by a remarkable dig by sophomore Amanda Hammarstedt off what looked like a sure kill by Hadler.

On the MW side, freshman Kayla VanderVeen was digging the ball well and the Lady Jays were battling as best they could.


But, the hitting and blocking of Reinhardt and several missed serves by MW allowed the Rams to gradually pull away.

The Lady Jays missed three serves during a middle stretch of Game 2, preventing them from sustaining a comeback against the arsenal of attackers which A-R was sending to the net.

A crafty hit on the move by Skorepa -- which brought MW to within seven at 17-10 -- was one of the highlights for the home team during that span.

A stellar diving attempt by Hadler saved a point one time, but the Rams kept pounding the ball and closed out Game 2 with an 8-2 run.

Lady Jays rally from 17-3 deficit in Game 3

Behind the pinpoint serving of freshman Bethany Peterson, the Rams opened Game 3 with nine straight points.

MW made a fine play when sophomore libero Sarah Suby, Drooger and Kazemba each made a save on the same volley, but Reinhardt ended the rally with a slamming middle kill.

A right-side kill by Kazemba -- off a back set from Wolff -- closed the score to 10-2, but the Rams scored seven of the next eight points and took a commanding 17-3 lead.


Down, but not out, the Lady Jays responded with one final surge of their own.

Suby started things for MW with a driving hit from the back row that scored a point.

Then after a long hit by the Rams, Skorepa (five blocks) put an ace middle block to the floor, giving the Lady Jays three consecutive points.

The Rams countered with three straight of their own. But with the score at 20-6, West came back again.

Skorepa scored on another middle block, VanderVeen set Kazemba for a kill and a one-arm save by Kazemba led to Wolff setting Skorepa for another kill.

Trailing 20-9, MW made it five in a row when Wolff set Skorepa again and the Rams hit a spike out, making the score 20-11.

A-R scored four straight points, but Kazemba delivered a scorching spike that was shanked to the rafters and bounced around like a pinball before falling to the floor for a point for the Lady Jays.

"She can swing and hit some really hard spikes," praised Johnson of Kazemba. "We need her to be aggressive like that every chance she gets."


An error by the Rams made the score 24-13, but -- fittingly -- it was a "wrap-around" kill by Reinhardt which finished the game and match.

"We played well," summed up Olson, whose team (18-4, 7-2) came into the match with a well-played victory over Rochester last weekend.

The Yellowjackets had defeated the Rams earlier in the season.

Hadler was 6-of-7 serving for the Lady Jays and had a team-high 10 digs, while VanderVeen contributed nine digs and Wolthuizen (6-of-7 serving, one ace) added a trio of blocks for MW.

The Lady Jays will be back at home on Saturday, hosting St. Cloud Tech at noon, in the annual "Meet the Lady Jays" event.

MW's Wolthuizen
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Lady Jay Kelsey Wolthuizen goes up to block Anoka-Ramsey hitter Alysha Reinhardt (11) during Wednesaday night's game in Worthington.

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