So far this season, the Rainy River Voyageurs volleyball team has owned the Central Lakes College Raiders.
The Voyageurs beat CLC in three tightly contested games at the Ridgewater tournament Sept. 18. Rainy River beat the Raiders again last weekend in five games, giving CLC its first North Division loss.
Friday at CLC, the Voyageurs did it to the Raiders again, earning another hard-fought 24-30, 31-29, 24-30, 31-29, 20-18 win.
Despite the loss and being a game behind Rainy River for the North Division lead, CLC coach Jane Peterson was upbeat.
"There's not too many times where you lose and you feel good about your team," Peterson said. "There are mistakes that we make that keep us from winning.
Rainy River 3, Central Lakes 2
The key: Three untimely CLC serving errors helped lead the Voyageurs to a five-game North Division win.
Next: CLC host Hibbing noon Saturday
"We were a much better team (Friday) and stayed intense. That's taken us a long time to figure out. I feel bad about losing but I feel good about my team."
The Raiders dominated much of the first four games, winning games one and three behind the stellar play of middle hitter Shannon McCarthy. In the third game McCarthy had seven of her match-high 21 kills. She also finished with 12 blocks.
"That's the best game Shannon has ever played," Peterson said. "That's the first time she's played defense this year. She has dominated the net in an unafraid way. That's part of why we can be good defensively because she makes hitters go around her."
Courtney Stach helped lead a balanced CLC attack, finishing with 18 kills. Lane tenCate added 15 kills and Jillian Maki had 12. Setter Amy Fleischhacker handed out 62 set assists.
The Raiders shot out to big leads early in the second and fourth games. But in both games CLC failed to close out Rainy River. In game two, the Raiders led 24-19 before the Voyageurs scored six straight points and eventually topped CLC.
In the fourth game the Raiders led 23-18, only to watch Rainy River storm back to tie it at 23. A service error by Maggie Wizner opened the door to the Voyageurs' comeback. A Dana tenCate service error on game point dashed hopes of a Raiders' rally.
"Rainy didn't miss serves at crucial times," said Peterson. "We served better for longer periods of time but we're missing serves at crucial times. In a game this close it comes back to serving and passing."
It was CLC's turn to make the comeback in the deciding game. Down 14-12, a Courtney Stach kill and a McCarthy block highlighted a three-point run that produced a 15-14 Raiders lead.
Another untimely CLC serving error tied the game at 17. After a Lane tenCate tip, Rainy River scored three straight points and ended it on an Emily Callander kill.
"I think we made Rainy beat us as a team," said Peterson. "Rainy River stayed aggressive and deserved to win. But we weren't tipping a lot and we kept swinging good. We didn't lose wimpy.
"We know that Rainy is the other good team that we're going to have to beat when it really counts."
Maggie Wizner 1 ace, 9 digs
Courtney Stach 18 kills, 1 ace, 12 digs, 2 blocks
Dana tenCate 9 kills, 5 set assists, 1 ace, 10 digs, 4 blocks
Shannon McCarthy 21 kills, 3 aces, 22 digs, 10 blocks
Lane tenCate 15 kills, 5 aces, 14 digs, 1 block
Jillian Maki 12 kills
Amy Fleischhacker 1 kill, 62 set assists, 4 aces, 12 digs
North Division -- CLC 5-2. Overall -- CLC 14-6. Next match -- CLC host Hibbing, Noon Saturday.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.