In action against a pair of Minnesota River Conference rivals last week the Central volleyball squad pulled out a 3-2 decision at Sibley East on Tuesday, Sept. 11, but lost 3-0 at Mayer Lutheran on Thursday, Sept. 13.
The Raiders are now 0-2 in the MRC, since only Thursday games count toward the league standings, but have a winning 5-4 record overall.
Raiders head coach Sarah Hammers said the Raiders are generally playing well, but need to continue sharpening their ball handling skills going forward.
“We’ve got to start eliminating these hitting and serving errors,” she said. “It’s far enough into the season where we have to be more aggressive, but be smart about being aggressive. So I’m looking for less hitting errors and less serving errors for us to be successful.”
Central 3, Sibley East 2
The week started out on a positive note when the Raiders prevailed in an up-and-down match against Sibley East in five games (25-21, 17-25, 10-25, 25-22, 15-11).
After a hard-fought win in the opening set, the Raiders suddenly slumped, scoring just 10 points in a non-competitive third set.
“We came out strong the first game, and the second and third game it was almost like we just lost our confidence,” said Hammers. “That third game our hitting percentage was probably the worst it’s ever been. One thing about playing Sibley is they’re always scrappy. They just don’t let balls drop. It’s hard for us to play a team that is similar to us like that.”
The Raiders surged back to win another close battle in the fourth set, however, and put another ‘W’ in the win column with a deciding 15-11 edge in the fifth set tiebreaker.
“For them to come back and win the fourth and the fifth game was huge,” said Hammers. “I think that’s attributed to them being competitors and knowing how to work in athletics, just not letting anything get to them.”
Nicole Miller led the team with 23 kills and 23 digs in the game. Other key contributors toward the win included Sami Brinkmann (10 kills, two blocks), Brooke Willemsen (nine kills, 14 digs), Lexi Erpenbach (eight kills, 22 digs), Natalie Stockman (five kills, 30 assists, 15 digs) and Kaylie Brazil (22 digs).
Central 0, LHS 3
While the Raiders had momentum coming off Tuesday’s victory, they faced a tough opponent in Mayer Lutheran, which is ranked No. 5 in Class A.
After a tight first set loss, the Raiders were dominated in the second set but rebounded for a competitive finish (21-25, 9-25, 19-25).
“We came out strong and played really well. I think we might have surprised Mayer a little bit,” said Hammers. “Then the second game Mayer said, ‘Nope.’ Our energy level and confidence dropped, but we did bounce back and compete again in the third game.”
The Raiders were hindered by errors in the game, including six serving errors.
“You can’t miss six serves against a team like Mayer and expect to win,” said Hammers.
Miller had seven kills and six digs in the game, while Willemsen posted four kills and five digs. Stockman notched 12 assists with seven digs and two blocks, and Brazil led the back row with 10 digs.