BENTON – With 19 consecutive victories over the first nine weeks of the regular season, the River Ridge varsity volleyball team entered the final week with just one more challenge in their way.
Benton, whom the Timberwolves had beaten earlier in the season, no doubt had Tuesday, Oct. 10, circled on their schedule, as a long-awaited rematch to decide the Six Rivers West conference championship.
Coach Dianne Langmeier’s squad entered last Tuesday’s match with a league record of 10-0, and ranked third in the latest Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association D4 poll, while the Zephyrs had a conference record of 10-1 and an eighth-place ranking.
After just three hard-fought games, it was the Zephyrs who came out victorious with scores of 25-17, 25-23 and 25-23, assuring themselves of at least a share of the Six Rivers West conference title.
The Timberwolves would have to wait two more days to find out their place in the league standings, needing to beat Highland on the following Thursday night to share the conference title with the Zephyrs.
“We missed quite a few serves in the first game, and we played point by point in the second game with them,” coach Langmeier said of Tuesday’s match.
In the third game, River Ridge found itself trailing 24-21, and despite a late and exciting comeback, it just wasn’t enough to avoid the sweep.
Against Benton, junior hitter Taylor Langmeier finished the match with a team-high 13 kills to go along with three blocks, while sophomore Skylar White added 12 kills and two blocks to go along with a team-high 21 digs and one service ace.
Junior setter Verity Johnson dished out 19 assists, while sophomore Faith Schier came up with 20 digs.
“We didn’t play our best game and with a team like Benton, you have to be on you’re A-Game,” coach Langmeier said. “Hopefully we will see them again on the tournament road.”
Leading the Zephyrs with 23 kills was senior Emma Lawrence, who according to Langmeier, “is very hard to stop, or even slow down.”
“I was proud of how the girls fought back and didn’t really get down on themselves though,” Langmeier said. “They just kept playing point by point throughout the whole match.”
On the following Thursday night, the Timberwolves had little trouble handing host Highland three straight losses of 25-17, 25-15 and 25-13 to put an exclamation point on the regular season.
The win gave coach Langmeier’s squad a league record of 11-1 and a share of the Six Rivers West conference title.
Taylor Langmeier put down a team-high 18 kills in the win to go along with three service aces, while White had seven kills and a team-high four aces. White also had a team-high 17 digs and one block.
Johnson distributed 22 total assists in the win, while Schier had 16 digs.
“The girls had a nice match with some great hitting,” Langmeier said of the win. “We reduced our service errors to only four for the match. We also had some nice digs from various players.”
As the No. 2 seed in their division 4 playoff bracket, the Timberwolves opened tournament play this past Tuesday night against visiting Shullsburg.
The top seed in the bracket belongs to Seneca (15-4), while Benton (22-2) is the third seed, and Southwestern (17-5) the fourth.
Benton 3, River Ridge 0
(from Tuesday, Oct. 10)
River Ridge 17 23 23
Benton 25 25 25
River Ridge leaders
Kills - Taylor Langmeier 13, Skylar White 12. Digs - White 21, Faith Schier 20. Aces - White 1. Assists - Verity Johnson 19, Jaci Williams 3. Blocks - Langmeier 3, White 2.
River Ridge 3, Highland 0
(from Thursday, Oct. 12)
River Ridge 25 25 25
Highland 17 15 13
River Ridge leaders
Kills - Taylor Langmeier 18, Skylar White 7. Digs - White 17, Faith Schier 16. Aces - White 4, Langmeier 3, Rylee Zinkle 3. Assists - Verity Johnson 22, Jaci Williams 7. Blocks - White 1 Zinkle 1.