The Central Lakes Raiders grew up a little bit on Wednesday night as they opened their North Division home season with a five-set win over the Rainy River Voyageurs.
Emily Weber and Melissa Widman each finished with 10 kills and Carlie Sweet finished with nine. Abbi Knutson contributed to the offense with 40 set assists.
Sweet and Alanna Hansen each finished with five blocks. Crysta Christensen scooped up 17 digs and Hayley Hornick was close behind with 15.
The first part of the season has been largely inconsistent for a team that has just three sophomores. After Wednesday night’s win, CLC had a record of 3-2 in North Division play and stood 7-8 overall. Their play against the Voyageurs was a look at their season as the Raiders were very strong at times, but also had to play their way out of a 2-1 deficit.
The young Raiders played 12 of their first 14 games on the road. For the freshmen, they needed to learn the speed of the college game. Sweet pointed out that the team has started to get the system that head coach Jane Peterson teaches.
“I thought it was really good and I felt like we came to play in the first game,” Sweet said. “We kind of got down on ourselves for a while, but we picked ourselves back up and came out with a win.
“I think we made a big step tonight. We are a lot faster and we are getting better at playing balls that we wouldn’t have gotten to in the past.”
“When you have an inconsistent game, you have to count any win as a good win,” said Peterson. “We finished the last two sets completely and we were in a good place. For a long period of time when it mattered, we were consistent.”
CLC came out strong in Game One and finished with a 25-18 win. In Games Two and Three, Rainy River brought the pressure and the Raiders played tentative as they dropped each game by a 25-18 score.
Down 2-1, CLC came out with a purpose in Game Four. Rainy River jumped out to an early two-point lead, but the Raiders came back to tie it up. With the Voyageurs ahead 9-8, CLC went on a seven-point run to take a 15-9 lead. They finished with two more runs of four points to take the fourth game 25-18.
In the fifth and deciding game, CLC never trailed. With the game tied at eight, CLC went on a four-point run to lead 12-8. The Raiders eventually won the game 15-10.
Peterson pointed out that being able to celebrate success is a large part of the growing process for her young team. “We have talked about success leading to confidence and that is why in volleyball you have to celebrate the success to build the confidence,” she said. “There were some rallies tonight where we hit a number of shots hard and they (Rainy River) were good and they just dug it out. When you win a rally like that it’s big.”
Wednesday night’s game was the first of nine games that the Raiders will play at home in the next two weeks. Being able to have the routine of getting ready for a home game may have been just what CLC needed.
“Someone told me today that it’s so nice to not have to sit on the bus for three hours before playing,” Peterson said. “Just not having to sit there and nap, and listen to me talk, and play the dumb game that we have to play on the bus. All that stuff can be distracting. Being on the road is hard and they were appreciative about not having to do it tonight.”
Rainy River 15 25 25 18 10
Central Lakes 25 18 18 25 15
Central Lakes statistics
Melissa Widman 10 kils, 6 digs, 3 blocks
Hayley Hornick 2 ace serves, 15 digs
Jazmin Massie 6 kills, 4 blocks
Abbi Knutson 6 kills, 3 ace serves, 8 digs, 2 blocks, 40 set assists
Crysta Christensen 5 kills, 4 ace serves, 17 digs
Carlie Sweet 9 kills, 4 digs, 5 blocks
Emily Weber 10 kills, 2 digs, 2 blocks
Kaylie Hanson 8 digs
Alanna Hansen 4 kills, 5 blocks
18 Photos - Raider Volleyball Vs Rainy River - Spotted© Photo Gallery