THIEF RIVER FALLS -- A small caravan rolled out of the Central Lakes College parking lot carrying the Raiders' volleyball team into the wind-swept mist of a fall afternoon Wednesday.
The Raiders, 5-0 in the North Division, were hitting the road and on a collision course with 4-1 conference rival Northland of Thief River Falls.
CLC returned from the 8-hour round trip with a 15-11, 15-13, 15-10 defeat.
"They are a very good team," Raiders coach Jane Peterson said. "They deserve a lot of credit. We were not anywhere close to our best for whatever reason.
"Katie Bell didn't play with us last weekend, now she's back. Adjusting to setters is a big deal, but good hitters should be able to do it. Part of it was we did not play like the championship team like I thought we were. It's a little wake-up call for us."
The defeat causes a 3-way tie for first in the division between CLC, Northland and Rainy River.
"We beat Rainy, Rainy beat Northland and Northland beat us," Peterson said. "It will make the second round (of the schedule) more interesting."
Peterson had time to reflect and project before the team's four-hour trip Wednesday.
"This match will be a challenge," she said. "I know that everyone thinks we sit really high as a team, but I'm not so sure of that. We haven't been challenged enough to really know that for sure."
The Northland squad is led by the conference's top hitter, Leah Salvhus, who boasts a hitting percentage of .533, meaning more than half of her hits are kills.
"(Salvhus) has great stats," said Peterson. "She's a good outside hitter and if I had to say we had a weakness, it would be defending an outside hitter. The problem is our lack of a consistently solid block."
Katie Bell 5 kills, 27 set assists, 15-16 serving, 9 digs
Jessica Hess 3 ace serves, 10-11 serving, 2 digs
Katie Foss 1 ace serve, 5-5 serving, 8 digs
Marie Kern 1 kill, 4 digs, 1 block
Becky Poster 6 kills, 3 ace serves, 6-7 serving, 11 digs, 3 blocks
Amanda Meyer 4 kills, 2 ace serves, 7-9 serving, 11 digs
Dana Dickinson 12 kills, 2 ace serves, 13-13 serving, 13 digs, 2 blocks
Steph McGrane 5 kills, 7 digs, 1 block
Conference -- CLC 5-1. Overall -- CLC 9-4. Next match -- CLC at Mankato Bethany Invitational 9 a.m. Saturday
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