MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Sept. 17–24)
PREP VOLLEYBALL: Riverdale 3, Cuba City 2
MUSCODA — The Riverdale volleyball team scored one of the biggest wins in recent years last Tuesday night when the host Chieftains rallied from an early 2–0 deficit to stun visiting Cuba City 18–25, 24–26, 25–22, 25–22, 15–9 to remain unbeaten in Southwest Wisconsin Activities League play.
The victory snapped the #8 ranked Cubans' 28-match SWAL winning streak and prevented Cuba City coach Keri Lawson from claiming her 600th career win on Riverdale's home court. Lawson collected her 600th victory two nights later at Southwestern, but last Tuesday belonged to Riverdale coach Leah Boebel and her Chieftains.
Regardless of the year the Cubans are always one of the top contenders in the SWAL. This would be a battle of unbeaten in the Conference as both teams were 2–0, what a battle it would turn out to be. Both teams came out firing and it was back and forth early.
The Cubans put together a run in their fifth rotation to take a 14–10 lead. From that point on it was a point or two back and forth until the Cubans reached 25 first in the first set winning 25–18.
The second set the Chieftains were able to regroup and took an early lead in the set. The Chieftains put a few nice runs of two and three points each and were looking tough. A lack of focus on the Cubans' sixth rotation let the visitors back in the door with five straight points to take a 17–15 lead.
The Chieftains were determined not to give up, found their composure and got back at it. They again were able to put a two nice scoring runs of two points each to tie the game at 23. It would only be fitting that this set went into extra points. Both teams traded side outs until the Cubans served up two straight points needed to take the second set 26–24.
Cuba was looking for a sweep, while Riverdale was looking for a spark to take this match into extra sets. The Chieftains started serving in set 3, and the Cubans quickly sided out and were able to get up by 3.
The Chieftains sided out and were able to get the score back to even at 3 in the next serve rotation. Riverdale struggled in the following rotation and allowed the Cubans a five-point run, but quickly bounced back with Kirsten Franklin serving and found themselves up by 2 after a nice five-point run themselves. Riverdale never looked back after that and pushed the Cubans to a fourth set after closing out the third set 25–22.
Set four proved to be more of the same with the Chieftains setting the pace and tempo of the game.
"We had more great serving runs put together by Emily Hach and Savannah Daly in this set," said Boebel. "We served tough and backed our servers up with some outstanding offense and defense. The Cubans didn’t know what to think when they struggled to put a ball down against our ridiculous defense both at the net and digging everything they threw at us.
"Tess Johnson again led our defensive efforts with some outstanding reads and digs on the night. Our middles, Kalayah Kaschub and Hope Ragels blocked well and frustrated the Cuba City hitters forcing a lot of hitting errors. Along with our defense our offense had the best outing we have ever had. All of our attackers caused havoc for the Cuba City defense. The Cuba City blockers became frustrated they were not able to stop our attacks and started to get sloppy with their net play."
Numerous net violations were called on the Cubans and allowed the Chieftains to keep their foot on the gas to take set number four 25–22.
The fifth and final set on the night was a sprint to 15 points. These fifth sets are usually won by the team that is the most mentally focused. This fifth set proved Riverdale was that team.
"We were poised and confident when we took the floor and never let up," said Boebel. "We served, set, attacked, blocked and dug with the confidence that has never been seen during my time with Riverdale volleyball and it showed."
Many times in set five teams get conservative on what they do, they don’t swing as hard and tend to play conservative. This was not the case with the Chieftains. They could sense the Cubans were struggling and went after them full throttle. Riverdale dominated the fifth set 15–9 to close out the comeback victory.
"This was an amazing win for our team and our program," added Boebel. "The girls showed extreme confidence and grit to take down the team that sometimes in our eyes was unbeatable. We showed poise when the other team was lapsing. The fruits of the Chieftains' labor was on full display during this match. When the Cubans looked gassed playing in the fourth and fifth set, we were ready to roll and other than being drenched in sweat showed little sign of fatigue. The girls were strong physically and mentally. These are the results we promised our players they would see if they bought in and worked hard off the court, the results are indisputable.
"We cannot thank our fans enough. A huge shout out to our student section. You were the seventh person on the court with us during the match and we cannot express enough how thankful we are for your energy and support. This will definitely be a match that many will not forget for a long time, however, we have many goals this season and this is just one that we will check off our list. We will not let this be the defining moment of our season, but it sure was a sweet one.
Riverdale improved to 7–3 overall and 3–0 in the SWAL with the win.
The Chieftains swept Mineral Point last Thursday, then finished second at Saturday's New Lisbon Invitational. Riverdale suffered its first league loss of the season Tuesday against Darlington and is currently 11–4 overall, 4–1 going into Thursday night's home match with Southwestern.
Riverdale stat leaders vs. Cuba City:
Kills: Hope Ragels 15, Savannah Daly 12, Kalayah Kaschub 11, Madison Couey 11
Aces: Kirsten Franklin 2, Kalayah Kaschub 2
Blocks: Hope Ragels 3, Kalayah Kaschub 3, Addy Bird 3
Digs: Tess Johnson – 41, Madison Couey 17, Emily Hach 16
Assists: Madison Couey 26, Kirsten Franklin 24
Serve Receives: Tess Johnson 38, Hope Ragels 22