Raiders sweep Lester Prairie in first test

Raider volleyball players overcame some early jitters to post a 3-0 sweep of Lester Prairie in their first test of the 2012 season on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Central dispatched the Bulldogs by a score of 25-15 in the first set, 25-14 in the second set and 25-19 in the final frame to seal the road win.

“It was a good first game for us. There were some nerves at the beginning, being that we’re such a young team, but everybody definitely stepped up,” said Raiders head coach Sarah Hammers.

A balanced Central attack was put in motion by setter Natalie Stockman, who notched a team-leading 20 assists on the night. Outside hitter Nicole Miller led the offense with 11 kills in 16 attempts for an outstanding .625 hitting percentage, while fellow outside hitter Lexi Erpenbach had eight kills. In the middle, Sami Jo Brinkmann tallied seven kills and Brooke Willemsen added four.

“I’m happy with the set distribution. To have Miller, Brooke, Sami Jo and Lexi all get 16-plus sets, that will be a key to help us this year, not just having one person being our big go-to person,” said Hammers. “That has to be our strength, because if a team can key in on one player like they did on Kylea Roeglin last year, it’s harder for us to score. This year Nicole Miller has more experience as a junior, so she’ll be one of our big hitters. But Lexi had some great swings at the game too, so Lexi is also going to be a threat, along with Brooke and Sami Jo.”

Also contributing on offense was Abby Forner, who had nine assists and two serving aces.

The team’s nerves were most evident at the serving line, where the Raiders committed seven serving errors.

“We have to eliminate some errors. We had too many serving errors, but first-game jitters were part of that,” said Hammers. “[Overall], it was a good.”

Brinkmann also had four solo blocks to lead the team in that category. Miller had 19 digs, Stockman had 11 digs, and Erpenbach added 10. Kaylie Brazil added seven digs on the back line.

“We’re a young team, but the kids are really energetic and they’re having fun, which is what we need to do this year because we have a tough week coming up with Glencoe and Belle Plaine,” said Hammers.

Central’s first Minnesota River Conference contest comes at Belle Plaine this Thursday, Sept. 6, and the matchup will be a difficult one.

“I think they’re definitely going to top the conference,” said Hammers.