Raiders earn first MRC win

Libero Kaylie Brazil had 20 digs to lead the Raider defense during the Raiders’ first conference victory over Sibley East on Thursday, Sept. 27. Photo by Paul Downer

With two home court sweeps last week, the Central volleyball team picked up its first conference victory and improved its overall record to 11-7.

The Raiders beat Holy Family 3-0 on Tuesday, Sept. 25, then earned their first Minnesota River Conference victory with another 3-0 win over Sibley East on Thursday, Sept. 27.

“I’m happy with the way we’re playing. We’ve improved a lot in the year,” said Raiders head coach Sarah Hammers. “We just need to keep the ball control there and the confidence. I’m excited for the rest of the season, for playoffs. I think we’re on the right track to find more success.”

Central 3, HF 0
Despite an error-filled first game, the Raiders gradually asserted themselves over Holy Family and dominated the third game (27-25, 25-14, 25-8).

“We definitely got better as we went along. The girls had a little bit of nerves going at first,” said Hammers. “Holy Family has traditionally been stronger. Their record doesn’t show how good they actually are. They haven’t won a lot of games, but they’re still competitive. So we came out and we had a lot of errors, but then we cleaned it up in the second and third game. It was a nice change to have.”

A majority of Central’s 12 total attack errors came in the first game, but the Raiders didn’t miss as the game went along.

“The first game we were just making errors, not playing. We were nervous, we weren’t just going for it,” said Hammers. “We have to learn to go out there and just go after it right away, not wait to see what the other team is like first and play at their level. We played at our level the second and third game and it was a lot of fun.”

Nicole Miller led the offense with 13 kills, and she added 10 digs in the back row.

Lexi Erpenbach had seven kills and seven digs, and Brooke Willemsen and Sami Jo Brinkmann each added four kills and a combined four blocks. Natalie Stockman had 15 assists in the game and six serving aces.

Central 3, SE 0
In the second game of the week the Raiders played with confidence and set the pace from the outset, one that the conference rival Wolverines simply couldn’t match (25-11, 25-10, 25-15).

An earlier match between the teams this year had gone a full five games, but there was little question which team was better during the second meeting.

“We stayed and a high level of play and played good defense,” said Hammers. “When we played Sibley there we didn’t come out as prepared. But I think defense is the reason we won this game. Kaylie Brazil had 20 digs. For a three game match, that was huge. She really picked it up.”

Hammers also credited the accurate serving of Erpenbach, who had 20 serve attempts in the match, for dictating the play and making Central’s defensive work easier.

“She was really placing the ball,” said Hammers.

Miller again posted 13 kills to lead the team, and she added 12 digs and three aces during the night. Brinkmann had nine kills, Erpenbach had eight kills with 16 digs, and Willemsen added five kills and three blocks.

The Raiders are now 1-3 in the MRC with league matches remaining against Watertown-Mayer, Jordan and LeSueur-Henderson.