PATCH GROVE – For the third year in a row, the River Ridge varsity volleyball team had its season end at the hands of the Southwestern Wildcats, who defeated the Timberwolves, 3-1, in a division 4 regional semifinal contest last Thursday night.
Coach Dianne Langmeier’s squad entered Thursday night’s contest as the second seed in their regional bracket, while the Wildcats held the third seed.
In the two years prior to this season’s regional pairing, the two programs met in sectional semifinal action, where the Wildcats won both meetings on their way to back-to-back D4 state runner-up titles.
After beating River Ridge last Thursday night, Southwestern went on to suffer a 3-1 loss to Benton on Saturday, who takes on Seneca in Thursday night’s sectional semifinal at Belmont.
In the first set of last Thursday night’s match, the Wildcats held a lead of 13-12 midway through the match, then went on a four-point run to take a 17-13 advantage.
Southwestern was the first to reach the 20-point mark with a 20-15 lead, and held on for a 25-21 win.
In the second set, the two teams were last tied at 8-8 before the Wildcats pulled away with leads of 14-9 and 20-14, before closing out their second victory at 25-18 with an ace by Amber Brand.
In the third set, River Ridge led from start to finish, with their largest lead at seven points (19-12 & 20-13). Southwestern did pull to within 22-19 late in the set, but couldn’t avoid a 25-20 Timberwolf victory.
With a 2-1 lead over the Timberwolves, Southwestern was looking to close out the match in the fourth set, but found themselves trailing early, 5-3.
With River Ridge fighting for their season, the two teams battled back and forth, as they were tied multiple times throughout the set, the last time being at 14-14.
From that point on, Southwestern always maintained at least a one-point advantage, and with her team up 22-21, Taylor Fleege put down an important kill to give her team a 23-21 lead.
River Ridge answered back with a kill of their own to make it 23-22, but then hit a spike attempt into the net to give the Wildcats a 24-22 advantage.
On the last play of the night, Southwestern freshman Abby Budden ended the match with a tip kill, giving her team a 3-1 victory.
“We really did not play our best game,” said River Ridge coach Dianne Langmeier. “We missed 11 serves on our home court, after having some nights where we only miss two or three. It was hard to overcome that.”
“The girls played hard though,” added Langmeier. “It was nice to come back and take the third set to show what we were capable of doing. We just needed to be more consistent in our overall play.”
On the night, sophomore Taylor Langmeier put down a team-high 20 kills, while freshman Skylar White added 16. Langmeier also had five blocks, while White had 18 digs.
Sophomore Verity Johnson dished out a team-high 40 assists to go along with two blocks and two service aces, while senior Darion Brooks chipped in 13 digs.
The Timberwolves advanced to Thursday night’s regional semifinal with a first-round sweep of Shullsburg last Tuesday night.
In that match, White put down 16 kills to go along wit nine digs and three aces, while Langmeier had 12 kills and two blocks.
Johnson dished out 30 assists, while Lexi Harper served up four aces and Brooks had 10 digs.
River Ridge 3, Shullsburg 0
(D4 regional quarterfinal from Tuesday, Oct. 18)
Shullsburg 14 15 20
River Ridge 25 25 25
River Ridge leaders
Kills - Skylar White 16, Taylor Langmeier 12. Digs - Darion Brooks 10, White 9. Aces - Lexi Harper 4, White 3. Assists - Verity Johnson 30. Blocks - Langmeier 2, Johnson 2.
Southwestern 3, River Ridge 1
(D4 regional semifinal from Thursday, Oct. 20)
Southwestern 25 25 20 25
River Ridge 21 18 25 22
Kills - . Digs - Claire Splinter 17. Aces - . Assists - Callista Brogley 29. Blocks - .
River Ridge leaders
Kills - Taylor Langmeier 20, Skylar White 16. Digs - White 18, Darion Brooks 13. Aces - Verity Johnson 2, Lexi Harper 1. Assists - Johnson 40. Blocks - Langmeier 5, Johnson 2.