By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield volleyball team found itself in a bind in the first game of its WIAA Division 1 regional final on Saturday against New Richmond.
Marshfield trailed 24-20 in the opening game of the best-of-5 match, but suddenly, it flipped a switch.
Marshfield scored the next six points, five on the serve of Anna Ripp, to capture not only Game 1, but all of the momentum.
Marshfield rolled from there, beating New Richmond 26-24, 25-9, 25-7, to win the regional title and move on to next week’s sectionals. Marshfield will host both Sectional 1 semifinals on Thursday.
Marshfield, the No. 1 seed, will play No. 5 River Falls at 5 p.m., followed by No. 2 D.C. Everest and No. 3 Eau Claire Memorial at 7 p.m. The winners move on to a sectional final at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at Wausau West with a berth at the 2015 WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament in Green Bay on the line.
Marshfield led most of the first game before New Richmond scored six points in a row to take a 24-20 lead.
After a kill by Ema Fehrenbach earned a sideout, and kept Marshfield alive, Ripp took over the serve and never relinquished it. She had one ace, Alexa Aumann had a kill and Fehrenbach’s kill ended the game, and New Richmond’s spirit.
“I think it was just getting the nerves out,” said Ripp, who had 23 assists and three service aces in the win. “We had to keep telling ourselves that we believed that we can win and we pulled it out. We are the No. 1 seed and we had to prove ourselves – and we did.”
The win gave Marshfield a feeling of confidence and it had its offense rolling from there on.
Marshfield jumped out to a 9-1 lead and had another 9-1 run later to go on top 19-5. A kill by Stephanie Rhodes eventually ended it at 25-9.
“This was the first playoff game for a lot of these girls and some of them did look a little nervous out there,” Marshfield coach Dawn Sadowska said. “I think we were afraid to make some plays. We just weren’t on in that the first game. We took care of it in the second and third games, so if those were our jitters and we’re done with them, that’s fine.”
Game 3 went much the same way as Marshfield went up 6-0 off the serve of Ripp. After New Richmond closed to within 8-5, Marshfield scored 14 of the next 15 points to take a 22-6 lead. Fehrenbach had two kills and Aumann added another to finish off the match.
“Our serving was huge for us and we were playing a faster offense,” Sadowska said. “Ema and Steph are hitting some really quick balls. If we want to get to the state tournament, we have to do that.”
Rhodes finished with a team-high nine kills, and Fehrenbach and Hannah Meverden each had seven for Marshfield. Sara Dasler led the defense with 14 digs and also added three service aces.
“All week Coach has really been stressing that we need to speed up the offense,” Ripp said. “We tried to do that as much as we could tonight. I think we need to collect ourselves and keep calm, because obviously when we’re nervous we tend to tense up and make mistakes. We’re a good enough team that we trust each other to pull through and get a win.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)