The Central Lakes Raiders are looking at a five game home stretch, and a chance to host the region tournament. They took the first step in that direction with a hard fought three-games-to-one win over Itasca on Tuesday night in a North Division matchup.
The Raiders, ranked fifth in NJCAA Division III poll this week, split the first two games before putting the Vikings away with solid defense and strong net play in the last two games.
Alanna Hansen pounded out 17 kills and Lindsay Monson collected 15, while Tiffany Hartung collected 48 set assists.
CLC was also very strong on defense with a blocking presence at the net. Sarah Miller also scooped 30 digs and Haley Hornick collected nine to provide solid play from the back row.
“It’s a really weird feeling because when you are back there you don’t think anyone appreciates you even though everyone does,” Miller said. “Your job is hard, but is so rewarding when your hitters go crazy with the hitting game and that you gave them that opportunity is awesome.”
Monson also recognized the effort of her teammate setting up the hitters.
“Sarah is amazing at passing,” Monson said. “I am so happy to have her on my team because she digs out everything and leaves her heart on the floor.”
After playing a majority of the season on the road, the Raiders entered the game with a perfect 10-0 division record and faced a key game in getting the opportunity to host the region tournament.
The Raiders won the first game 25-23, but then let Itasca go on a seven point run and take game two by a 25-22 score.
CLC rebounded with a 25-18 win in game three and a 25-19 clinching score in the fourth game.
It earned the Raiders a season sweep over Itasca.
“They were excited about it and they are a team that has a deep desire to win games and they understood the importance of this game in not just getting to the region tournament but to get to host it,” head coach Jane Peterson said of her team’s effort. “A win tonight and it would be difficult to not be the host.”
Monson agreed that the upcoming five games were something that her teammates had been looking at most of the season.
“We were looking at all of these upcoming games when we had our games out on the road. Now that we have this home stretch we feel like we have nothing to lose.”