The Central Lakes College volleyball team will be seeking its fifth consecutive state title this weekend as it begins play in the Minnesota Community College Conference state tournament this weekend.
The Raiders finished the regular season with a 12-0 mark in the Northern Division and a 25-5 overall record after sweeping its Crossover Tournament on Oct. 18.
No matter what happens this weekend, the Raiders will play in the Region XIII championship game at CLC on Nov. 3 because of their division championship.
This, however, does little to deter CLC's motivation heading into the weekend, said CLC head coach Jane Peterson.
Heather Feldewerd says loss to Ridgewater is still in back of her mind
"If you're really trying to be a championship team, you can't just say, 'This tournament doesn't matter,'" she said. " We're playing next weekend no matter what. We can lose every game and still play next weekend. But this tournament gives us a chance to reiterate a statement, show who we really are."
The tournament is made up of eight teams, but the focus for the Raiders appears to be Ridgewater, which CLC defeated in last year's state tournament before it defeated the Raiders at nationals.
Peterson said it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand while a talented Ridgewater team (10-0 and 21-8) will presumably be waiting down the line.
"The focus is Ridgewater and I'm trying real hard to not make that the focus because you probably have to win four times to get to that point. And, two of the wins will have to come against teams that have won a game against us," she said. "The most important game is the first one. It sets a tone for how you're going to play the rest of the way."
MCCC state volleyball tourney
When: Friday through Sunday
Where: Ridgewater College, Willmar
The key: Central Lakes College may meet Ridgewater, which knocked the Raiders out of the 2006 national tournament.
Overall: CLC, 25-5
Sophomore Heather Feldewerd, who is among the team leaders in ace serves and blocks, said the loss to Ridgewater at nationals in still in the back of her mind.
"Ridgewater is the focus. But we went four with Mesabi, who we meet first, and Rochester took a game from us so we need to take care of them first," she said. "You don't want to lose throughout the tournament because when you go to the region game the opponent already thinks it can beat you."
The Raiders begin tournament play Friday at 10 a.m. with Mesabi and then move on to face Rochester at 1 p.m.
Saturday will see CLC matched up against MSCTC-Fergus Falls at 5:30 p.m. before championship play begins Sunday.
TY RUSHMEYER, sports writer, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5865.
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