This weekend, the Central Lakes College Raiders volleyball team will be in search of some caffeine as it travels to Mankato to take part in the Bethany Lutheran College tournament.
The Raiders got their season on track, winning four consecutive matches, before falling to Northland Wednesday. But CLC coach Jane Peterson still feels the team is missing a little something.
"I think we would all agree that we need to develop as a team more," Peterson said. "Playing for a complete day and being together for a night will be a great opportunity. How this team uses this opportunity will tell us a lot."
One of the teams that should challenge the Raiders is the host team, which sits alone atop the South Division with a 13-3 record. CLC will also face Iowa Lakes Community College and Rock Valley College.
Peterson also believes this tournament came couldn't have come at a better time.
"This is really the ideal time for us to go to a tournament and play some teams that will challenge us," Peterson said. "We need to work some things out. We've had some great moments but that should be happening more often."
A win is a win.
Raiders coach Mike Degen and his team received news earlier this week that they were awarded a win as Mesabi Range, which beat the Raiders 28-0 in the season opener, was forced to forfeit the victory. That reversal of fortunes puts the Raiders' record at 1-3.
On Saturday, the Raiders open South Division play at Rochester, the only 4-0 team in the Minnesota Community College Conference.
"We're going into the game with nothing to lose," Degen said. "Rochester has everything to lose."
Rochester boasts the highest scoring offense (40 points per game) and the stingiest defense (12.5) in the South.
The Raiders' defense will have its hands full as it tries to contain the division's leading rusher and scorer, Kentrell Nealy. The running back has rushed for 467 yards and nine touchdowns in four games. Controlling Nealy will be even more difficult as the Raiders lost starting defensive lineman Carlos DeLasSalas for the year due to a knee injury.
But the Raiders have some players to attack with.
Quarterback Matt Gohl is third in the South Division with 470 passing yards and is fifth in total offense. Wide receiver Brandon Flanders has benefited the most from Gohl's passing. He's third in the division with 16 catches for 239 yards.
"We have to find ways to move the ball in order to keep the defense off the field," said Degen. "If we don't move the ball it's suicide for us."
Because of the injuries, Degen will be playing some players on offense and defense.
"It'll be exciting for them to get the chance to play college football at two positions," he said. "We'll go to battle with what we have."
Also lost for the season is Jon Kahl of Pierz (knee), Trent Betley and Matt Flier, both of Aitkin (shoulders). In all, the Raiders have lost seven players for the entire season.
Raiders men's and women's teams look to continue their season-long success as they travel to Mankato on Saturday to play in the Bethany Lutheran College invitational.
The women will go after their sixth straight tournament title while the men will try to get back to their winning ways. Last weekend in the CLC Invitational, the men's string of four consecutive tournament wins was snapped by Hibbing.
The men won't have to wait long to face Hibbing as they travel there Tuesday, along with the women, and then to Grand Rapids for the Itasca Invitational on Wednesday.
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