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Ridgefield volleyball knocks off Columbia River in 5 sets for district title

Rapids’ 38-match win streak ends

By , Columbian Sports Editor
Published:
13 Photos
The Ridgefield Spudders celebrate match point, winning the 2A District 4 volleyball championship in five sets against rival Columbia River on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Mark Morris High School in Longview.
The Ridgefield Spudders celebrate match point, winning the 2A District 4 volleyball championship in five sets against rival Columbia River on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Mark Morris High School in Longview. (Robert Hilson for The Columbian) This was an upset of mammoth proportions for Ridgefield. Columbia River had not lost a game since October of 2021. Photo Gallery

LONGVIEW — As they hoisted the district championship trophy and hopped in unison, the Ridgefield volleyball team belted out their school’s fight song.

Its verses were not lacking in volume and energy. Not after the Spudders secured one of the program’s biggest wins in the past two seasons.

Ridgefield knocked off No. 1-ranked Columbia River in a five-set thriller for the Class 2A District 4 championship on Saturday at Mark Morris High School.

The Spudders snapped River’s 38-match win streak, which stretched to the last time Ridgefield beat the Rapids on Sept. 21, 2021.

Since then, Columbia River had beaten Ridgefield in the Class 2A state title match and last year’s district championship, which also went five sets.

Now Ridgefield, which entered the title match 16-3 and No. 6 in the 2A state RPI rankings, has momentum heading into next weekend’s state tournament in Yakima.

“We’ve come a long way from the beginning of the season,” senior outside hitter Natalie Andrew said. “I’m so proud of everyone. I’m so excited to be able to play with the girls more. I’m so excited to be continuing on to state.”

Andrew had 26 kills, including five in the fifth-set tiebreaker that Ridgefield won 15-13. The Spudders led 13-6 before River responded with a 7-1 run.

That fifth-set triumph came after Ridgefield stayed alive by winning the fourth set 27-25. River had won the first set 25-20 and the third set 25-18. Ridgefield won the second 25-12.

“We just had to stick to it and have consistent energy throughout the match,” said junior middle blocker Elizabeth Andrew. “They’re a really good team. You have to play your hardest to beat them.”

Elizabeth Andrew had 26 kills. She and fellow middle blocker Hailey McEllrath also combined for 13 blocks, helping contain a River attack led by its two talented outside hitters Lauren Dreves, an Auburn commit, and Sydney Dreves.

“It really was our energy and our ball control was a lot better this game,” McEllrath said. “I’m just so proud of this team.”

Columbia River had dropped just one set all season prior to Saturday’s title match. Rapids’ coach Beanne Smedley believes her team will respond after getting its first tough test of the year.

“This is a really good opportunity for us,” Smedley said. “We even said going into the district tournament that well-timed losses are really great opportunities for us to grow. While the timing of this one hurts, this is going to be a really good spring for us heading into training and state next week.”

Columbia River (19-1) punched its state ticket with a semifinal sweep of Mark Morris, 25-17, 25-15 and 25-21. Sydney Dreves had 18 kills and nine digs. Lauren Dreves had 17 kills.

Ridgefield clinched its ninth consecutive state berth with a dominating win over Tumwater in the semifinals at Lower Columbia College. The Spudders earned a 25-11, 25-15, 25-13 sweep.

Elizabeth Andrew had 15 kills, nine digs and five aces. Natalie Andrew added 11 kills and nine digs.

Saturday’s test against River, along with two league clashes against the Rapids, has Ridgefield primed for state, where the Spudders have reached the last three title matches, winning in 2018 and 2019.

“It really prepares us for the level of competition that we’re going to see,” senior Paige Stepaniuk said. “River’s a great team that brings us up to a higher level as well. It’s really fun to compete against other high-level teams.”

Nobody will be surprised if Columbia River and Ridgefield find themselves on another collision course next week.

“We were talking and they were saying ‘I can’t wait to see them at state,’ ” Smedley said. “We’re going to take 24 hours to get over it. But this isn’t something that’s going to hold them back.”

Ridgefield isn’t shying away from another clash with River.

“I’m so excited for state,” Elizabeth Andrew said. “We’ll see them again for sure.”

2A District 4 Tournament

Saturday’s Games

Semifinals

Ridgefield 3, Tumwater 0

Columbia River 3, Mark Morris 0

Winner-to-state

Mark Morris 3, W.F. West 0

Black Hills 3, Tumwater 0

Championship

Ridgefield 3, Columbia River 2

COLUMBIA RIVER 3, MARK MORRIS 0

25-17, 25-15, 25-21

Columbia River

Highlights — Lauren Dreves 17 kills, 8 digs, 2 aces; Sydney Dreves 18 kills, 9 digs, 2 aces, 2 blocks; Taegen Benke 3 kills, 2 digs, 2 aces, 6 blocks; Logan DeJong 2 blocks; Macey McCoy 3 kills, 1 block; Sophie Worden 31 assists, 10 digs, 2 aces; Sasha Pelkey 10 digs; Ellie Ogee 4 digs, 1 ace.

RIDGEFIELD 3, TUMWATER 0

25-11, 25-15, 25-13

Ridgefield

Highlights — Paige Stepaniuk 4 kills, 4 digs, 2 aces, 2 assists; Lillian House 2 digs, 2 aces, 2 assists; Hailey McEllrath 4 kills, 1 dig, 2 blocks; Callie Curran 5 digs, 11 assists; Elizabeth Andrew 15 kills, 9 digs, 4 blocks, 5 aces, 4 assists; Natalie Andrew 11 kills, 9 digs, 2 aces; Allison Orantes 1 dig, 11 assists.

RIDGEFIELD 3, COLUMBIA RIVER 2

20-25. 25-12,18-25, 27-25, 15-13

Columbia River

Highlights — Lauren Dreves 24 kills, 10 digs, 1 assist, 1 block; Sydney Dreves 25 kills, 13 dis, 1 block, 1 ace; Logan DeJong 1 kill, 3 blocks; Macey McCoy 1 kill, 4 blocks; Sophie Worden 47 assists, 4 digs, 1 ace; Sasha Pelkey 10 digs, 2 aces; Ellie Ogee 3 digs, 1 ace; Evie Wenger 5 kills.

Ridgefield

Highlights — Paige Stepaniuk 6 kills, 13 digs, 7 assists; Hailey McEllrath 2 kills, 7 blocks; Hannah McAdams 1 block, 2 assists; Callie Curran 5 digs, 1 block, 2 aces, 26 assists; Elizabeth Andrew 26 kills, 7 digs, 6 blocks, 5 aces; Natalie Andrew 21 kills, 6 digs; Allison Orantes 7 digs, 4 aces, 12 assists;  Tava Whitlow 4 digs, 1 ace, 1 assist.

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