PATCH GROVE — The battle for first-place in the Six Rivers West went right down to the wire with the host River Ridge Timberwolves pulling out a 15–9 victory in the decisive fifth set to take down the previously unbeaten Benton Zephyrs, 3–2, and forge a tie atop the league standings at RRHS on Thursday, Sept. 24.
The Zephyrs (14–4 overall, 6–1 SRW) opened the season with a 3–2 win over the Timberwolves (6–1) three weeks ago to jumpstart an unblemished run through the first-half of the league schedule, but the ‘Wolves turned the tables on them to start off the second-half of the season.
“I told the players that we have had a target on our back since we beat Ridge in our first conference match, so it was no surprise they were pumped to play us,” noted Benton head coach Russell Hamm. “Playing at Ridge is always difficult. What I saw in the match was a lot of swings in momentum. We had a rough time playing defense and passing, which is uncommon for our team. The Wolves controlled their side of the court well, which I can’t say the same for us.”
Benton opened the night with a 25–19 win to go up 1–0, however the hosts stormed back with a 25–15 decision to even the match at 1–1.
The Zephyrs regained the lead with a 25–18 win in set three, but once again the west side of the court held the magic with the Wolves running away with a 25-13 win in set four to deadlock things at 2–2.
Ridge grabbed the lead early in set five and built up a quick 11–4 advantage before a mini-run by the Zephyrs brought them back within four at 11–7. They would get no closer as the Wolves closed out the night with a 15–9 decision.
“I had to remind them that while it’s disappointing to take this loss, we still have the best record in conference. We just share it with Ridge now,” Hamm said. “From here on out, we have to beat every team we have left to play. It’s a lot of pressure on these players and I’m sure they’ll handle it well.”
Bridgette Myers had a triple-double for the T’Wolves, recording 24 kills, 23 assists and 17 digs to go along with five aces in the victory. Taylor Langmeier added 17 kills, 13 assists and two blocks for the hosts.
Sophomore Emma Lawrence tallied 14 kills, 23 digs, three blocks and an ace to lead the Zephyrs. Junior Kayla Dougherty scored 12 kills and 19 digs on the night, while fellow junior Lily Carver had eight kills, seven digs and four blocks.
Senior setter Montanna Burmeister dished out 42 assists and had 14 digs and an ace. Senior Payton Bastian chipped in with seven kills and 17 digs. Freshman Sophie Dougherty added six kills and six blocks, while sophomore Kelsie Goffinet registered 11 digs and an ace in the match.
River Ridge 3, Benton 2
(from Thursday, Sept. 24)
Benton 25 15 25 13 9
River Ridge 19 25 18 25 15
River Ridge leaders — Kills - Bridgette Myers 24, Taylor Langmeier 17. Digs - Sydney Bloom 20, Myers 17. Aces - Myers 5, Sierra Schier 3. Assists - Myers 23, Langmeier 13. Blocks - Langmeier 2, Amber Patterson 1.
Benton Stat Leaders — Kills: Emma Lawrence 17. Blocks: Lawrence 5. Digs: Lawrence 19, Montanna Burmeister 19. Assists: Burmeister 32. Aces: Lawrence 6.