Oct 13, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterA win this week over Rock Springs would give Riverton an automatic state tournament berth.
A weekend sweep moved Riverton to 6-3 in conference play with a single regular season game remaining against Rock Springs. More importantly the Wolverines can clinch a second place regional tournament seed and qualify automatically for the state tournament with a closing-season win over the Tigers.
Riverton had few problems in a 25-15, 25-21, 25-21 sweep of Green River on Friday, but Saturday afternoon's contest with the Evanston Red Devils was a classic five game battle.
Riverton won the first and third games, with Evanston taking the even-numbered sets contests. In the finale, Riverton trailed 7-5 and 11-10 before battling back to knot the game six times from 11 to 17 points.
"Destiny is in our house," Riverton head coach Adrian McNamee said. "Defensively, we had a lot of kids get a lot digs and allow us to rotate through our offense."
That offense centered on the hard hitting of 6-foot front-row hitters Kiley Ridgway and Jensyn Pettit. On the night Ridgway tallied 21 kills, and Pettit hit 14.
Kaitlin Koehn and Courtney Olson ran the show with 41 and 20 assists, respectively.
You won't find many matches closer than this one, with a total of 26 ties in the five games. Each time Riverton built a slight lead, Evanston coach Teran Lawler called a time out and stopped the rally.
In game one the score was knotted at 12 before a pair of Ridgway spikes built a small lead. Koehn served a pair of aces to build a four-point Riverton lead. Evanston closed to a single point, but Riverton pulled away and a hammering kill from Ridgway sealed the game at 25-19.
In games two and four, Evanston used a defensive strategy with occasional power plays from 5-11 sophomore Ashlee Thornock.
"They're a very scrappy team," McNamee said of Evanston, which beat Riverton is a similar five-setter just last week.
In game three Pettit sparked the Wolverines with back-to-back blocks to break open a tight game that see-sawed with six lead changes and four times between 12-12 and 17-17.
Brooklen Thompson drove the ball through an Evanston block, followed by a Ridgway kill and an ace from Koehn that won game three 25-21.
In the decisive final game the twin towers of Ridgway and Pettit altered or blocked nearly every Red Devil shot. Haley Snell added a block and a kill of her own as Riverton battled into volleyball's equivalent of overtime.
Riverton held the advantage at every point except one after the regulation score was knotted at 15.
A Koehn ace and a Ridgway killed tied the game a final time at 17.
Kenisha Muehler drove the ball hard near the back of the Evanston defense, and it was called inbounds by game officials. The call brought the ire of Lawler and assistant coach Matt Peterson, but the call stood. Riverton took the tight contest on a final spike by Snell.
"You fight hard to be in these situations, and now we have one," McNamee said.
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