The Central Lakes College volleyball team hit a minor bump in the road at last week's MCCC state tournament.
Finishing second for most is a step forward, but for a Raiders team with high expectations it was a disappointment.
After rolling through the first two games of pool play 3-0, 3-0 Friday, CLC matched up against a Fergus Falls team it had easily handled during the season on Saturday.
The Raiders took game one, before dropping the final two. CLC rebounded by sweeping Anoka-Ramsey on Sunday setting up a state title rematch game with Ridgewater, who CLC defeated for the 2006 championship.
The 2006 state title was the Raiders' fourth straight but 2007 was not the year they would pick up their fifth straight.
Central Lakes College sophomore libero Heather Kapinos of Ogilvie passed the ball during an match earlier this season. Brainerd Dispatch/File photo » Purchase reprints of this photo.
CLC stormed to a 2-0 advantage by taking both games 30-27 before Ridgewater roared back in taking the match's final three games, denying the Raiders' a state title.
Head coach Jane Peterson said the Fergus Falls' game was lost due to a lack of focus and the Ridgewater loss was not due to a lack of effort.
"We were definitely lacking focus against Fergus Falls. We sat around all day until 5:30 to play and that's hard," she said. "(Ridgewater) is a very good team and it was a very close match. The tournament worked like it was suppose to, the two best teams met in the finals."
Last season the Raiders fell to Ridgewater in the national tournament just as they had in 2005. CLC ended up taking third both times.
Sophomore Heather Feldewerd said a win over Northland Friday will hopefully give the Raiders another shot at Ridgewater in the 2007 national tournament.
"What makes (the loss) even more frustrating is that we won those first two, then dropped the last three. We were so close," she said. "We've just realized how much the sophomores wanted it last year. Because when they were freshman they lost to Ridgewater for third place and when we were freshman we lost to Ridgewater for third place. So now we know what they were talking about last year. We want to change that this year."
Sophomore Krista Meyer, one of the state's leaders in total digs and kills, agreed with Feldewerd and said the postseason has felt different in her second season.
Region 13B Championship
Time: 6:30 p.m. Friday at CLC
Regular season: CLC defeated Northland 3-1 on Sept. 12 and 3-0 on Oct. 10.
Division: CLC 12-0, North. 9-3
Overall: CLC 28-7, North. 17-15
"I think the losses help prepare us for nationals. It makes us want to win even more," she said. "I'm more nervous this season, because this is my final year here. I want to be back at nationals."
With all the talk and thoughts of Ridgewater and national tournament play, CLC will have to refocus on the task at hand Friday against a quality Northland opponent if a fifth consecutive trip to nationals is in their plans.
Peterson said it has been fairly difficult to concentrate on the game against Northland with bigger, more important games possibly looming in the near future.
"The Fergus Falls loss is not on our minds, but the Ridgewater one is. When you come so close, you want another shot at them," she said. "Because we played Ridgewater last weekend it's hard to focus on this game. But you can't just show up and win Friday. They're a good team. Hopefully everyone remembers that."
TY RUSHMEYER, sports writer, may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5865.
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