Bill Bentson: RCTC Yellowjackets ranked number one in national volleyball polls

Bill Bentson
Wheelin' with WEB

Can you believe that half of the fall sports season is approaching? Everything is just moving way too fast.

There was an article in the Rochester Post Bulletin recently about the Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) volleyball team. When the article was written, the RCTC team was ranked number-one in the nation. “It’s not a goal of ours to be nationally ranked number one,” RCTC coach Amber Zitzow said. “It’s exciting for our school, our fans, but as (for) our team, it’s not a big deal.” The author of the article, Guy Limbeck, added, the Yellowjackets have a veteran squad back from a team that placed third at the NJCAA National Tournament a year ago. Being number one at the end of the season is more important to the Yellowjackets.

Several of the players are from the southeast Minnesota area, including Brekkin McCready (setter, St. Charles), AnnMarie Jalmasco (middle blocker, Schaeffer Academy), Kate Bade (libero, Plainview-Elgin-Millville), Hayley Dessner (middle blocker, PEM) and Carrie Rutledge (outside hitter, Hayfield). I checked the roster for RCTC and see they have a couple more southeast gals: Gabby Speltz (Lewiston-Altura), Madison Sawyer (PEM) and Jessica Storm (St. Charles). Rounding out the Yellowjacket roster are Olivia Fredin (St. James High School, Butterfield) and Molly Kleist (Linn-Marr High School, Marion, Iowa).

In my estimation, Zitzow has the credentials to be a four-year college volleyball coach, but has strong ties to southeast Minnesota, and apparently is very satisfied being the coach at the top-ranked junior college team in the nation.

I remember Amber, before she was the coach at RCTC, was an assistant at St. Charles (I believe, or PEM) and would form a 18 and under team with players from the Three Rivers Conference. Wow, there was some great talent on those teams. The TRC produces players for many four-year programs and many “juco” teams too.

The team also has great team chemistry, doing lots of things together, including winning volleyball matches. “It’s just easy to get along with everyone,” said Rutledge.

“One game at a time” said Bade.

RCTC’s assistant coach is Tori (Ristau) Johnson, former excellent player for Fillmore Central. She and Amber have been a great team for many years. Keep up the good work, girls!


In nine-man state rankings, Mountain Lake Area, 3-0, is on top, followed by Verndale, LeRoy-Ostrander, Mountain Iron-Buhl and Hills-Beaver Creek, all with 3-0 records. Sixth is Stephen-Argyle, 2-1, followed by Southland and Brandon-Evansville tied at seventh with 3-0 records. Rounding out the top ten are Grand Meadow (2-1) and Renville County West (3-0).

Other teams receiving votes were Fertile-Beltrami (3-0), Ogilvie (3-0), Spring Grove (2-1), Hancock (3-0), North Central (3-0), Win-E-Mac (3-0), and Warren-Alvarado-Oslo (3-0).

My comments: the only undefeated team that has no ranking, or is not mentioned is Blackduck (3-0). Grand Meadow and Spring Grove loses are to LeRoy-Ostrander. Stephen-Argyle’s loss is to Warren-Alvarado-Oslo (24-6). Really? WAO is in “the mentioned” teams and the Storm is at number six.

How about this for a “long-distance” relationship? North Central (I think it is Northome-Kelliher/Littlefork-Big Falls) plays two of their games in Kelliher and two in Littlefork. Those two towns are more than 50 miles apart, and they’re on the same team. I would love to have the gasoline contract for the players and fans from that team

I thought this was a nice touch, regarding the success that LeRoy-Ostrander is having so far this season. The following is from the Austin Daily Herald, by Sports Editor Rocky Hulne: The number-eight-ranked LeRoy-Ostrander football team scored its biggest win in at least a decade when it knocked off number-one Grand Meadow, 30-19, in Grand Meadow (2-1 overall) Friday night. GM took a 19-18 lead when Nolan Skifter converted a seven-yard TD run with seven minutes left in the game, but the Cards took the lead the rest of the way when Chase Johnson hit Riley Olson for a 34-yard TD on a “fourth and eight.”

“What a win. Hats off to our defense,” L-O head coach Trevor Carrier said. “It’s a true family over here and we do a lot of work. It’s about every kid here, whether they play a lot or a little.”

Isaac Collier picked off a screen (pass) and ran it back for a TD to clinch the win. L-O (2-0 overall, they’re really 3-0) has now picked up two consecutive road wins against top-10 teams (GM and Spring Grove).

“Coach (Gary) Sloan runs a great program in Grand Meadow and we tip our hat to him,” Carrier said.

Class 1A: 1) BOLD (3-0); Mahnomen-Waubun (3-0); 3) Blooming Prairie (3-0); 4) United South Central (3-0); 5) Mayer Lutheran (3-0); 6) Minneota (3-0); 7) Springfield (3-0); 8) Upsala-Swanville (3-0); 9) Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (3-0); 10) Underwood (3-0). Braham (3-0) also received votes. Undefeated teams in Class A, that got no lovin’ are Randolph, Dawson-Boyd and Carlton-Wrenshall.

Ada-Borup West (2-1, only loss is to Barnesville, No. 2, Class AA, 35-22) traveled to Underwood this past Friday. It should have been a good game. The coach at Underwood, who moved up to 11-man this year, is Chuck Ross. I emailed Chuck and wished him the best. Mr. Ross did his “student teaching” in biology/science at Graceville when I was principal out there. He was an Ortonville native, a great guy, and so was his dad, Dr. Bob Ross (also, a native of Ortonville, who came back home to practice medicine in his hometown).

Class AA: 1) Caledonia (3-0); 2) Barnesville (3-0); 3) Redwood Valley (3-0); 4) Minneapolis North (3-0); 5) Moose Lake-Willow River (3-0) 6) Paynesville Area (2-1); 7) Eden Valley-Watkins (3-0); 8) West Central Area/Ashby (3-0); 9) Blue Earth Area (3-0); 10) Lewiston-Altura (3-0). Others getting votes were Pipestone Area (2-1), Concordia Academy (3-0), St. Charles (2-1), Triton (2-1), Pelican Rapids (3-0), Crosby-Ironton (3-0), Chatfield (2-1) and St. Agnes (3-0).

Section 1AA is well represented in this week’s poll. Five teams from the section are named, including number one and number ten. And speaking of number one and number ten, they don’t play each other during the regular season this year, and if they both go undefeated, who’s going to be number one? It’ll come down to the QRF ranking, and L-A has four Class A schools remaining on their schedule, which isn’t going to help one bit. Last note: Staples-Motley (3-0) is the only undefeated team that isn’t ranked, or mentioned.

Here’s the top three for each of the remaining classes.

Class AAA: 1) Pierz (3-0), 2) Jackson County Central (3-0) and 3) Albany (3-0). Stewartville (3-0) is at number six and Cannon Falls (3-0) is number nine.

Class AAAA: 1) SMB-Wolfpack (3-0), 2) Hutchinson (3-0) and 3) Delano (3-0). Winona (3-0) is number four.

Class AAAAA: 1) Owatonna (3-0), 2) St. Thomas Academy (3-0) and 3) Elk River (3-0). Rochester Mayo (3-0) is ranked number nine and Century (2-1) is in the honorable mention category.

Class AAAAAA: Lakeville North (3-0), Eden Prairie (3-0) and Wayzata (3-0) go 1, 2 and 3.


There was a real nice article in the Post Bulletin this past Wednesday, about Mabel-Canton standout, Kenidi McCabe. McCabe, just a junior for the Cougars, recently got her 1,000th dig, to add to her 2,336 set assists. McCabe led the Cougars into the Class A Showcase tournament up in Burnsville this past weekend. Twenty-two Class A teams were taking part in the showcase, including nine of the top 10 Class A teams.

Cross Country notes.

Natasha Sortland, freshman from Zumbrota-Mazeppa, is the top-ranked runner in the Class A girls. Jacey Majerus, also a ninth grader, from Lake City, is ranked at number ten. The Lake City girls are ranked number five as a team and Stewartville is at 11. Stewartville has been a regular at the “Shoe,” a cross country meet in Chatfield, which is going to be held on Thursday, Oct. 3.

No teams or individual boys are ranked this week, but Lake City, La Crescent-Hokah and LA/RP have been running well this season.

I have to mention that I got a nice note from Al Batt this past week. Thanks to Al for the nice comments and I wish him continued success with his column.

I’m done for this week. I need to get prepared for an upcoming road trip; a road trip to top all road trips of the past.

Have a great week, one day at a time. Hasta luego my friends. Hey to the Great 8, my Fab 4, my lovely wife, Carol (welcome home), Melissa, and to you, the greatest Readers of all time. Later, WEB.