Rochester, MN - In the match of the tournament so far, the RCTC Yellowjacekts women's volleyball team fell to the Columbus State Community College Cougars in a 5 set thriller. In a match that turned into a defensive slugfest neither team could really find their offensive rhythm, as the Cougars hit at an .073 clip while the Jackets could muster only an .089 hitting percentage.
In front of a raucous crowd at the Rochester Regional Sports Center the Yellowjackets came out hot as they rolled to a 25-11 first set win as Carrie Rutledge pounded out 8 of her 23 kills in the set. The Yellowjackets hit .310 in set one and held Columbus to only a -.207 peercentage. From there the match turned into a defenive battle as Columbus came back to win set two 25-21 holding the Jackets to a negative hitting percentage in the set.
The two teams then traded wins in sets three and four as RCTC took a 2-1 lead winning set three 25-20, before the Cougars answered with a 25-19 win in set four.
In the decisive 5th set neither team could claim momentum early as they went back and forth through the first half of the set. Neither team could take a lead larger than two points. At 11-10 in the set Columbus won back to back long rallies to extend their lead to 13-10, before closing out the set and the match 15-11.
The teams offensive leaders throughout the season came up big in the match as Columbus State's Bobby Diamond lead all players with 29 kills on 87 attempts, and RCTC's Carrie Rutledge had 23 kills on 76 swings. It was the second straight match of the national tournament that Rutledge had 23 kills. No other Cougar player had more than 6 kills while Hayley Dessner added 13 kills for the Yellowjackets.
RCTC setter Brekkin McCready had 41 assists and 13 digs in the match to pace the Jackets. On the defensive side of the ball the two teams combined for 185 digs on the night with RCTC landing 5 players in double figures. Kate Bade lead the way with 19, while Dessner added 16, Rutledge had 15, and Jessica Storm had 15.
With the loss, the Yellowjackets (31-3) will now face Brookhaven in the 3rd place match of the NJCAA National Tournament. First serve is scheduled for 4:00pm on Saturday in the Sports Center on the RCTC campus.