There's no place like home.
That has to be at least one of the thoughts that crossed the collective consciousness of the Central Lakes College Raiders volleyball team Thursday. After a week on the road, during which CLC suffered its first conference loss, the Raiders returned to their home court and their winning ways, posting a 15-9, 15-6, 15-6 victory over visiting Itasca.
The Raiders spent much of last week crammed into the team's travel van, touring the state. "We're home after a horrendous road trip," said CLC head coach Jane Peterson.
"We went to Ely, then to Thief River Falls, and finally to Mankato. That's eight days and more than 1,200 miles. When you're traveling that much you get tired. It's kind of hard to keep that desire. The matches don't seem like as much fun. But we're home now and things should be a little easier, a little more fun."
Things were easier for the Raiders against an overmatched Itasca team. The Raiders trailed in only one game on their way to the three-game victory that improved their overall record to 14-5.
From the opening serve, it was obvious that CLC was loose and ready to play. Every player made a contribution, even the one that didn't take the court.
"This was an amazing team effort and Stephanie McGrane led the way sitting on the bench," Peterson said. "She decided she better do something to contribute. This win was a total team effort, a bench war."
McGrane spent the match on the Raiders' bench due to an injury called plantar fasciitis, a chronic inflammatory syndrome. It's a painful but a fairly common problem for runners, dancers, volleyball players and others who use repetitive ankle and foot movements. It's the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. Activities like walking and running, even simple weight bearing, can bring on the pain, which can then radiate throughout the bottom of the foot. It has not yet been determined when McGrane will return.
"She's a pretty tough person and she'll be there when we need her," said Peterson.
The key to the match was aggressive, attacking serving by the Raiders.
"We served aggressively," said Peterson." When we're serving aggressively and the other team is worried about first contact, it can take them out of their game."
Itasca head coach, Heather Parenteau, agreed with Peterson's assessment.
"(CLC) moves the ball extremely fast," said Parenteau. "They're certainly one of the better teams we've seen all year."
The performance of Raider Dana Dickinson was a first-game highlight as she unleashed a full arsenal of shots that kept Itasca off-guard. Dickinson led the Raiders with 12 kills on the night. She also added three service aces and five digs. Becky Poster was also a dominant force on the court, finishing with nine kills, five digs and two service aces. Katie Bell chipped in with 30 set assists and five digs while Jessica Hess totaled five service aces.
This was a match that featured the first presentation of the Squash Award. The trophy, a buttercup variety garden squash, goes to the Raider that does the most, in the opinion of Peterson, to "squash" the opponent. The "squash" may be figurative or literal. This night, the Squash Award went to the bench, a bench featuring the emotional leadership of a Raider who didn't even suit up.
Katie Bell 17-17 serving, 2 ace serves, 1 kill, 30 set assists, 5 digs
Jessica Hess 15-17 serving, 5 ace serves, 4 digs
Jessi Fischer 4-5 serving, 4 digs
Katie Foss 2-2 serving, 2 digs
Marie Kern 5 kills
Becky Poster 5-6 serving, 2 ace serves, 9 kills, 2 set assists, 5 digs
Becca Nagel 2-2 serving, 1 dig
Amanda Meyer 6-7 serving, 4 kills, 30 set assists, 9 digs
Dana Dickinson 13-15 serving, 3 ace serves, 12 kill, 5 digs
Anna Struss 17-17 serving, 2 ace serves, 1 kill, 30 set assists, 5 digs
Conference -- CLC 5-1; I 2-5. Overall -- CLC 14-5; I 5-15. Next match -- Friday CLC hosts Vermilion 6:30 p.m.; Saturday CLC hosts Mesabi noon, Anoka-Ramsey 3 p.m..
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