ROCHESTER -- "We win and lose as a team," and "There's no 'I' in team," are just a few of the clichs that are thrown around sports to describe how important playing and working together as a unit is in order to achieve team success.
This past weekend, the Central Lakes College Raiders volleyball team proved those theories correct as it went on to repeat as NJCAA Division III champion.
But, with all of success the team has enjoyed, Raiders players were able to bask in the glow of individual success as well.
Freshmen hitters Jessica Heitzman and Valorie Diedrich, along with sophomore setter Katie Bell, were named to the all-tournament team. Sophomore hitter Dana Dickinson was named tournament most valuable player and Raiders coach Jane Peterson was named national junior college coach of the year.
When asked how she is going to replace Bell and Dickinson next season, Peterson simply said: "You don't. I don't plan on replacing them. They're both great players and I'm fortunate that they chose community college because they could be somewhere else.
"Dana has been a big hitter all year," Peterson added. "But, she's more than just a big hitter, she's also a great defensive player and the most highly recruited player I've ever coached."
Dickinson displayed her all-around game in the tournament, registering 95 kills and 63 digs in the five matches the Raiders played.
"I was very surprised being named MVP," Dickinson said. "I owe everything to my teammates. Without everyone working together, we would have never won."
Bell, an all-American last year, also had a stellar tournament. She dished out 233 set assists, with an amazing 71 set assists in the championship match. Bell also showed her defensive abilities by leading the team in digs with 65, 30 of them coming in the last match.
"We had the best setter in the gym," Peterson said. "She has great distribution of the ball. She's the reason we can be so good."
Said Bell: "It's a good feeling being named all-tournament, but it says a lot for my teammates. I have good hitters that make me look good."
Diedrich was second on the team in the tournament with 62 kills. She saved her best game for last as she pounded out 22 kills in the championship match.
Heitz-man performed great all weekend as she did a little bit of everything for the Raiders, nailing kills, setting the ball, and playing great defense.
The 2001 Raiders will be remembered for many things: Great defense, powerful hitting, and solid serving. They will also be remembered as a collection of individuals that made each other, and their team, champions.
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