Lady Redmen survive and advance with big comeback
WIAA DIV. 4 VOLLEYBALL
BY MATT FREY
They didn’t make it easy on themselves, but the Rib Lake Lady Redmen gave themselves at least one more match Tuesday by rallying for a 3-2 win at Wild Rose in a WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfi nal.
The ninth-seeded Redmen came back from two games down to knock off the eighth-seeded Wildcats, taking the decisive fifth set 15-6.
The win sends the Redmen (7-25) to a 7 p.m. regional semifinal tonight, Thursday, in Marshfield against top-seeded Columbus Catholic. The Dons had no trouble with 16th-seeded Port Edwards Tuesday, winning 25-4, 25-25-7, 25-12.
“I’m so proud and happy for these girls,” Rib Lake head coach Barb Anderson said. “We have talked all year that we will be a different team come tournaments. It was great to see the girls fight to come back in the third set. After they won that, they came back out with a different energy.”
As a team, Anderson said defense was key to the comeback. After dropping the first two sets 25-21 and 25-19, Rib Lake responded with back-to-back 25-18 wins to get to fifth set.
“We switched our defense last week because we knew they liked to push the ball over on one and two,” Anderson said. “Our defensive set up allowed us to have girls right where they needed to be.”
Individually, Anderson said each player had a job to do and they did them well.
“All of our hitters, Allison Olwell, Savana Radtke, Nellie Hopkins, Mackenzie Weinzatl and Tia Bube did really good things. They hit when they made an approach and pushed it over when they were off-balance. We found their holes and put the ball there. Wild Rose was scrappy, but we kept being aggressive.”
In the back row, Avery Judnic and Maesyn Vlach were the standouts.
“With our change in defense, Avery had a lot of digs,” Anderson said. “She kept balls in play and was there when they pushed the ball over on one or two. Maesyn passed well and covered the court. Tia played a great back row alongside Maesyn. It is fun to watch these two play together.”
Setter Kyla Kennedy played through illness and did what she could. Sophomore Molly Heiser spelled her when needed and came through.
“Our whole team is coughing like crazy, but Kyla just couldn’t catch her breath,” Anderson said. “Molly Heiser really stepped up to the challenge. She hustled and put up hittable balls. She and Emma Winter, who served and played some back row, along with Emily Rodman, who subbed into the front row, stepped up and did their jobs.”
The win snapped a 10-game losing skid the Redmen had been on and gives them a nothing-to-lose opportunity tonight against the fourth-ranked Division 4 team in the state, according to this week’s coaches poll.
Tonight’s winner will advance to Saturday’s 7 p.m. regional final against either fifth-seeded Wisconsin Rapids Assumption or fourth-seeded Athens. Assumption swept 12th-seeded Rosholt Tuesday and Athens swept 13th-seeded Northland Lutheran.
“We know we have a tough match ahead of us, but we are a different team,” Anderson said. “They know they can do it.”