When your program has won three national championships and finished third in the nation four times the expectations are immense.
The Central Lakes College Raiders let the Itasca Vikings hang around for three games Wednesday but won all three 27-25, 25-22, 25-21.
"I try not to pay attention to what other people are expecting," Raiders coach Jane Peterson said. "I would expect us to be a little more dominating against a team like that, but they did play good defense.
"There were a couple big hits we had that they got up so they're not bad. They're not very powerful offensively, they're pretty predictable that way, but they're pretty good defensively. They didn't give up on the ball so I don't know what people are expecting on that side of the gym.
"We talk about it all the time, just keep pushing wanting to win, not waiting for it to happen, making it happen. That's something we don't have figured out yet."
Raiders 3, Itasca 0
The key: Improved serving sparked Central Lakes
North Division: CLC 2-1, Ita 1-2
Overall: CLC 4-7, Ita 9-7
Next: Vermilion at CLC 6:30 p.m. Friday
Serving is one aspect of the game the Raiders appear to be figuring out. They drilled eight ace serves and served at an 88-percent clip. Kaylee Hawks led the way with three aces, Shayna Foote had two and Samantha Boyer, Chelsey Christensen and Krystle Hamilton each had one.
"One of our goals was to serve more aggressively," Peterson said. "We had more aces tonight than we've had."
Hitting was another area where the Raiders were more aggressive. Rachel Voeltz hammered 10 kills, Foote nine, Alexa Hoffman seven, Hawks and Erin Jugasek four each and Tika Klauck two.
"We've also been working on our hitters burying their attacks, not just swinging wildly," Peterson said. "They're trying to put it in a place. You could see there were quite a few roll shots, some scored, some made them scramble.
"We started off the (match) with a line shot, which is something the outside hitters have been practicing, and an ace. That was two really good things to start off. There were a lot of good things and we're getting better all the time.
"Whatever people over there think, maybe it's not as dominating as it has been, but it's good for this team. We're making steps. We still have a long time to go so we can be dominating in the end."
Itasca tied the first game 25-25. Two unforced errors by the Vikings led to CLC's win.
The Vikings were within 23-22 in the second game before a Klauck kill and unforced error gave CLC the victory.
Itasca was within 23-21 in the last game but the Raiders won on a Hoffman kill.
Itasca 25 22 21
Central Lakes 27 25 25
Samantha Boyer 1 ace serve, 13 digs
Rachel Voeltz 10 kills, 1 block
Andrea Wynn 18 assists, 5 digs
Kaylee Hawks 4 kills, 3 aces, 4 digs
Shayna Foote 9 kills, 13 assists, 2 aces, 1 block
Erin Jugasek 4 kills, 1 ace, 1 block
Alexa Hoffman 7 kills, 3 blocks
Chelsey Christensen 1 ace, 1 assist, 3 digs
Tika Klauck 2 kills, 1 dig
Krystle Hamilton 1 ace, 1 dig
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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