Rochester, MN - The RCTC Yellowjacket volleyball team added a bit of stress to Coach Amber Ztizow's life in the National Quarterfinals, but pulled off a thrilling 3-1 over Rock Valley Community College. The Yellowjackets, who are the #4 seed in the tournament, downed the Golden Eagles, the #5 seed, by set scores of: 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, and 25-19.
The match, which was as close as the scores indicate, went back and forth all night long with 15 lead changes (6 in the third set alone). In a knock down, drag out first set neither team built much of a lead throughout, Rock Valley held a 4 point lead, early in the set but that was the widest margin either team had. With the teams tied at 23-23, RCTC got a kill from Carrie Rutledge, followed by a block by Ann-Marie Jalmasco to seal the 25-23 win.
Set two, looked to be all Rock Valley as they built their lead to 8 points midway through the set, holding a 19-11 lead. But RCTC righted the ship, pulling to within 1, late in the set before the Eagles closed it out 25-23. The decisive third set proved to be a defensive struggle, as both teams were able to slow the others offense throughout. RCTC hit only.106 in the set, but managed 15 kills against just 10 for Rock Valley. With neither team able to gain much momentum, Coach Zitzow made several key defensive adjustments and the Yellowjacket backline responded, making big play after big play down the stretch. The Golden Eagles were having success through sets 2 and 3 with some offspeed shots and tips accounting for multiple kills. Late in the set, however, the Jacket defensive core of Katlyn Bade, Alexis Dudycha, and Heidi Wolf, responded by picking up nearly every tip that came their way. The Jackets got a big kill by Carrie Rutledge to close out the set 25-23.
Set four looked to be a bit different than the first three as the Jackets jumped out to early 6-2 and 9-4 leads, but it was the Golden Eagles that fought back closing the margin to only 2 at 13-11. From that point on it was all Yellowjackets as the RCTC pressure finally began to take its toll on Rock Valley. In the final set RCTC held Rock Valley to only 8 kills (with 7 errors) and a .028 hitting percentage. Four of RCTC's seven service aces also came in the final set.
The Jacketes were led offensively by MCAC Southern Division Player of the Year Carrie Rutledge's 25 kills and astounding .426 hitting percentage. The Jackets also got a key offensive contribution from Hailey Bahr with 11 kills. Brekkin McCready once again directed the offense and had a fantastic all-around performance. She finished the match with 48 assists, 18 digs, 2 service aces, and 2 blocks.
On the defensive side of the ball it was the front line of Mariah Steinbach (6 blocks), Kaelyn Marzolf (4 blocks) and Jalmasco (3 blocks) that set the tone. Once again the backline proved critical as the Jackets finished with 72 digs. In addition to McCready's 18, Rutledge added 15, Dudycha added 11, Katlyn Bade had 8, and Heidi Wolf added 7. For good measure middle blockers Steinbach and Jalmasco combined to contribute 9 digs.
The win moved the Yellowjackets (23-8) into the National Semifinals against #1 seed Owens who downed the #8 seeed Queensborough in straight sets in their quarterfinal matchup. The Semifinal match will take place at 5:00pm in the Sports Center, located on the campus of Rochester Community and Technical College.