The Central Lakes College Raiders volleyball team went into Wednesday's contest against the visiting Northland Pioneers knowing they had a berth in the state tournament locked up. They were playing this game to earn at least a tie for the Minnesota Community College Conference Northern Division championship.
The Raiders came to the game with a game plan mapped out by head coach Jane Peterson and her staff. The plan and the players worked to perfection as they beat Northland in four games, 15-7, 12-15, 15-9 and 15-5.
"Football coaches call it a game plan," said Peterson. "We knew their tendencies and we used that. Number 11 (Northland's Leah Salvhus) is the best outside hitter in the state. She's up there in hitting percentage and she's up there in kills per-game. We effectively knocked her out from being a dominating force in this game by blocking her the right way and by serving her deep.
"This was a real team win. Anna Struss did a great job blocking; she made Salvhus, who is the best hitter in the state, do something different. Struss played great and Jessie Fischer served great and that was crucial. Katie Bell is the best setter in the state."
Bell took Peterson's compliment and passed it on to her teammates as quickly as she does the volleyball.
"We did really well tonight," said Bell, "because we had really good passing. And our serve receive was really good. All the passes came right to me which made my job easy."
Bell finished the match with 75 set assists, that's nearly 19 per-game and virtually an unheard of average. When Bell wasn't setting the ball she was using her drop shot to score.
"Katie uses the drop shot whenever she wants," said Peterson. "As far as attacking efficiency, she may be our best attacker, which is really unusual for a setter."
When Bell highlighted the team's passing, she was speaking of a trait that is one of the better team skills the Raiders have.
"We did pass well tonight," said Peterson. "But I think we're one of the best passing teams in the state. Our passes are quicker, they're faster, they're on the net. That's another big part of what makes us effective."
Raiders' hitter Amanda Meyer also gave a nod to Peterson's game plan for the part it played in the Raiders' win.
"We were well prepared for them," said Meyer. "We knew about their main hitter, so we tried to serve to her as much as we could. That way she had to serve return and couldn't get the hit she wanted."
Now the Raiders must wait. If Rainy River wins their Wednesday night match, they will also own a 12-2 record. If that happens, CLC and Rainy River will have a one-game playoff, either tonight or Saturday afternoon, to determine the conference champion. If there is a playoff, it will be at a neutral site, that has not yet been named. And, just in case there is a playoff, the Raiders have already started formulating their game plan.
Serving, ace serves, kills, set assists, blocks
Jessi Fischer-- 24-25 serving, 1 service ace, 1 dig
Katie Bell-- 16-19 service, 5 service aces, 10 attack kills, 75 set assists, 9 digs
Becky Poster-- 23 kills, 10 digs, 6 blocks
Amanda Meyer-- 16-18 serving, 1 service ace, 9 kills, 13 digs
Dana Dickinson-- 11-14 serving, 16 digs, 11 kills
Steph McGrane-- 25 kills, 9 digs, 1 block
Anna Struss-- 4 kills, 1 set, 1 dig, 2 blocks
Jessica Hess-- 16-21 serving, 1 set, 8 digs, 1 block
Conference --CLC 12-2. Overall -- CLC 20-6. Next match -- (To be determined).
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