On the very first point, the Central Lakes Raiders volleyball team set the tone in an important, early season North Division showdown with nemesis Rainy River Friday.
Raiders Lane tenCate and Kristin Olson teamed up to block a kill attempt by imposing Voyageur hitter Erin Aker for the first point.
That one block not only set the tone for CLC, but frustrated Aker, making her a non-factor for much of the evening.
The end result was a 30-22, 30-22, 22-30, 30-27 Raider win, keeping them atop the North with a 4-1 record while the Voyageurs slipped to 3-2.
"Our block is good and has been good," Peterson said. "It's huge when you can start the game with a block. Their hitters get frustrated and think too much. We're only 5-foot-10 but we have a really big block for 5-10 players. When you have such a big block you always have a chance to beat teams."
Heading into Friday's match, Rainy River's Carlea Staehnke and Aker were ranked second and third in the North in kills at just over four kills a game.
CLC's blockers held Aker to only 10 kills. The Raiders finished with 27 blocks, with Shannon McCarthy and tenCate leading with seven apiece. Aubrie Anderson had six and Olson five.
"I felt we did a really good job against Aker," said Peterson. "She's their go-to hitter. When you can stop a go-to player you can frustrate a team."
CLC cruised in the first two games, winning handily. CLC setter Abby Leach found holes in the Voyageur defense as she put down well placed tips.
"That's good passing when Abby can dump the ball so easily," Peterson said. "Rainy's middle blocker was worried about that and so it opened up Lane and Shannon to be more aggressive."
TenCate led CLC with 19 kills while McCarthy collected 12. Kristin Olson stepped her game up, filling in for an injured Jenny Skiba, with eight kills.
"We have a bunch of different options when the passing's there," said Peterson. "It's really hard for an opposing blocker, when the pass is close to the net and the setter is up in the air. They have to wait to make sure the setter is going to get rid of the ball."
Closing out Rainy River in the third game proved difficult as Staehnke cranked up her play with four kills.
The fourth game was an emotional, see-saw battle. With the score tied at 26, the Raiders scored three straight points. Rainy River earned a side out and on the ensuing serve, Leach set tenCate up for a cross court kill to give CLC the win.
"What was big about this match was the way we finished the last game," Peterson said. "We looked like a team that wanted to win and not a team that was afraid of losing. We got over this hump that we've had a hard time getting over. We struggled for a while but we didn't give it to them. That's a huge step in the right direction."
Abby Leach 5 kills, 39 set assists, 2 digs
Jodie Solinger 12 digs
Tracy Bell 4 digs
Shannon McCarthy 12 kills, 1 dig, 7 blocks
Lane tenCate 19 kills, 3 digs, 7 blocks
Aubrie Anderson 3 kills, 2 set assists, 6 blocks
Dana tenCate 3 kills, 3 ace serves, 3 digs
Kristin Olson 8 kills, 1 ace, 2 digs, 5 blocks
Kelly Holmgren 1 set assist
Jenny Skiba 5 kills, 1 ace serve, 4 digs, 2 blocks
North Division -- CLC 4-1, RR 3-2. Overall -- CLC 9-5, RR 10-6. Next match -- CLC at North Dakota State College of Science 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.