ROCHESTER - "If we had to lose, I'm glad it was to them," Central Lakes College sophomore Krystle Hamilton said.
The Raiders were swept by fellow Minnesota school Ridgewater of Willmar 25-15, 25-20, 25-17 in the third-place match in the NJCAA national tournament Saturday at Rochester Community and Technical College.
For CLC players, their friends became foes for one day.
"We're always talking to one another," Hamilton said of CLC's relationship with Ridgewater. "(Friday) night we even spent time in the hot tub together at the hotel. It would've been nice to beat them, but we're not so upset we lost."
Raiders coach Jane Peterson knew that players from the two teams were close.
"They got to know one another by playing in the same tournaments," she said. "In this day and age with cell phones and Facebook they stayed in contact."
After Saturday's match there was a lot of hugging going on involving players from both teams.
"Our girls wanted to compete well and to win," Peterson said. "Maybe they put a little too much pressure on themselves."
Ridgewater dominated the first game, opening up leads of 16-8 and 19-9, but CLC held its own in the next two. The Raiders pulled within 23-20 in the second game and to 16-13 in the third before the Warriors pulled away.
"They were more experienced than we were," Peterson said. "They had more powerful offensive options. But we played well."
The Raiders were led by Jenna Terhaar with 12 kills and six digs; Erica Feldewerd with seven kills and eight digs; Kirstie Grill with six kills; and Hamilton with nine digs.
CLC finished the season with a 19-12 record and Ridgewater wound up 36-5. Ridgewater also beat CLC in an early season tournament.
Peterson wasn't disappointed with her team's performance in the national tournament, which also included a 3-0 win over Nassau (N.Y.) in the quarterfinals and a 3-0 loss to defending national champion Brookhaven (Texas) in the semifinals.
"It was nice to achieve so much more than we thought we would," Peterson said. "Getting to this tournament, and then playing so well, was a huge accomplishment. I've been to this tournament before (as a coach), but our girls haven't, so you have to be happy for them."
Nine of the 12 players on CLC's roster are freshmen, so Peterson is expecting more in 2010.
"I'm hoping we start next season where we ended this year and then keep moving forward," she said. "Playing in this national tournament our players saw what it takes to be successful on this level."
Feldewerd, Grill honored
Erica Feldewerd of Central Lakes College spiked the ball against Niagara Community College in the NJCAA Division III national tournament. CLC finished fourth.
Feldewerd and Grill were named to the all-tournament team.
In three national matches, Feldewerd had 21 kills, one ace, 36 digs and six blocks. Grill had 19 kills, one set assist, one ace, four digs and 11 blocks."
"I want our team and our fans to know that we played some of our best volleyball at the end of the season," Peterson said. "At a national tournament we had more blocks per game, more digs per game, a better serving percentage, and a better attacking percentage than our season average.
"While losing twice in three straight sets won't be perceived by some as a success, for this team, and these players, this tournament and this season was a huge success.
"We improved. We won some big games. We were playing on the last day of the season. Some teams in our division were done a month ago. That extra experience will hopefully help the 2010 Raiders, who are already recruiting, plotting, planning and hoping."
CLC tournament totals (3 matches)
Kayla Atkinson 13 digs
Rachel Pfeffer 1 kill, 73 set assists, 3 aces, 20 digs, 6 blocks
Erica Feldewerd 21 kills, 1 ace, 36 digs, 6 blocks
Katie Amundson 1 dig
Elora Meisner 7 kills, 3 digs, 14 blocks
Jenna Terhaar 30 kills, 13 digs, 3 blocks
Tika (Klauck) Nichols 1 kill, 1 assist, 3 digs, 1 block
Kirstie Grill 19 kills, 1 assist, 1 ace, 4 digs, 11 blocks
Christine Malm 1 assist, 1 ace, 10 digs
Krystle Hamilton 5 aces, 34 digs,
Kaitlyn Roerick 8 kills, 2 assists, 2 digs, 7 blocks
Championship: Brookhaven def. Madison 22-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-19
Third place: Ridgewater def. Central Lakes 25-15, 25-20, 25-17
Fifth place: Niagara def. Butler 19-25, 25-14, 25-11, 25-22
Seventh place: Nassau def. Davidson 25-18, 25-13, 25-20
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.