When the Central Lakes Raiders look back at their 2012, they may look back at a team huddle before the start of the fifth and deciding game against Mesabi on Friday night.
“We were kind of silent for the first minute and a half, and then decided what we needed to do,” said Haley Hornick. “Coach said that we needed to stop their outside hitter and that is what we did.”
The No. 1 seeded Raiders then went out and served the ball with authority, and stopped No. 4 Mesabi’s outside hitter to win the deciding game 15-4, and clinch a berth in the Region 13B championship game at noon Saturday.
“We knew they were going to be a scrappy team and weren’t just going to fold for us,” said Hornick. “They came tonight and showed us that they were a team that definitely deserved to be here.”
Lindsay Monson led the power game at the net with 19 kills and Tiffany Hartung was a tipping machine with 44 total set assists.
Sarah Miller scooped 26 digs. Hornick and Crysta Christensen also finished in double figures in digs with 14 each.
The Raiders also had good success in the serving game as Lindsay Monson led the way with four ace serves. Crysta Christensen, Carlie Sweet, Tiffany Hartung and Tatum Hall each collected three.
Mesabi posed a good challenge for the Raiders with good outside hitters in Morgan Hanson and Vicky Fosslund.
“Did you read Mike Bialka’s article today?” Head coach Jane Peterson said. “I said it wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t. They have good outside hitters. When we were beating them they were scoring a lot of points and so I didn’t expect it to be easy.
“They are 19-year-old girls and I didn’t expect them to just come here and fold. They were here to win and they practiced all week just like us. They were very aggressive and very impressive.”
Game one went the way of the Raiders as they scored the last five points of the game to win by the score of 25-17. Mesabi made it closer in game two but still fell by a score of 25-20.
Things then started to go against CLC in game three as they committed a number of passing errors and fell by a score of 25-16.
In game four, the Raiders fell behind 19-14, but then rallied to tie the game at 21. Both teams had several long volleys in a tightly contested 25-23 win for Mesabi.
“We had more receiving errors in those games than in any other match this season,” Peterson said. “I don’t know if they were serving that tough or if it was a mental thing with us not calling for the ball.”
The Raiders huddled up knowing their season was coming down to one game.
“Some teams you just have to tell them to shut up and listen. We have a team that is a bunch of thinkers and I just asked for them to listen to me one time,” said Peterson. “All we need to do is pass the ball and defend the outside hitter. I felt like they trusted me at the end which is a good thing for a coach.”
They came out on fire in game five and took a 9-2 lead. With a very effective serving and hitting game, CLC never looked back as they moved on to the championship game with a 15-4 win.
“We have been playing together all season, and we trust each other to know that we are going to go for it and put our hearts on the floor,” Hornick said.
“It has taken us a long time to become a team that plays together,” Peterson said. “You saw us not work together there for a bit. There was a coming together and us saying we want to win this and it’s not just one person’s job.”
Northland edged Itaska in four sets Friday, and will play Central lakes Saturday at CLC.
Mesabi 17 20 25 25 4
Central Lakes 25 25 16 23 15
Central Lakes statistics
Haley Hornick 2 set assists, 14 digs
Sarah Miller 2 set assists, 26 digs
Sami Knott 11 kills, 3 digs,
Crysta Christensen 3 kills, 3 ace serves, 14 digs
Carlie Sweet 8 kills, 3 ace serves, 8 digs, 1 block
Tatum Hall 3 ace serves, 6 digs
Alanna Hansen 10 kills, 2 set assists, 3 digs
Tiffany Hartung 1 kill, 44 set assists, 3 ace serves, 9 digs
Lindsay Monson 19 kills, 4 ace serves, 7 digs, 1 block
Overall: CLC 22-6. Next: CLC vs No. 2 Northland for Region 13B championship, noon Saturday at CLC.