Raiders earn second conference win

CHS senior Katrina Wessale goes for a kill against Watertown-Mayer during Central’s 3-0 win on Thursday, Oct. 4. Photo by Paul Downer
CHS senior Katrina Wessale goes for a kill against Watertown-Mayer during Central’s 3-0 win on Thursday, Oct. 4. Photo by Paul Downer

In two matches last week the Central volleyball squad suffered a five-game loss at Jordan, but rallied to pick up its second Minnesota River Conference victory by a 3-0 margin over Watertown-Mayer at home.
The Raiders are now 12-8 overall on the season and are fifth in the MRC standings with a 2-3 league mark.

Central 2, Jordan 3
It looked as if the Raiders were about to wrap up a quick victory over the Jaguars with 25-11 and 25-20 wins in the first two games on Tuesday, Oct. 2, but Jordan recovered and ran off three straight victories to salvage the match (18-25, 16-25, 12-15).
Each team was a little off-balance in the first two games, as Jordan was trying a new lineup in the first game, and the Raiders were forced to play in an unfamiliar configuration after a lineup error in the second game.
“When I wrote it down it was wrong. The girls had to do a little adjustment there, but they worked hard and they won with a very strange lineup. We had to run a 5-1,” said Raiders head coach Sarah Hammers.
While the loss after taking a 2-0 win looked like a collapse, Hammers said the shift was more the result of a revived Jordan squad than of a Raider letdown. One of Jordan’s top offensive players, outside hitter Rachel Freund, was making her return to the court after a preseason injury, and after a tentative start she helped the Jaguars take control of the match.
“By the third game she was confident and brought her team up. The first game she was rolling, tipping, not really swinging. By the third game she was strong, she was hitting and she was aggressive,” said Hammers. “We weren’t able to finish. We didn’t choke, we just didn’t finish.”
Lexi Erpenbach led the Raiders with 18 kills. Nicole Miller added 15 kills and Sami Jo Brinkmann had eight kills. Natalie Stockman notched 41 assists and served a pair of aces.
Libero Kaylie Brazil had 32 digs in the game to lead the back row, while Miller added 20 digs, Erpenbach had 15 and Stockman had 14.
“We get to play them again for conference. We’ll see what we can do then,” said Hammers.

Central 3, W-M 0
While the Jordan game ended in disappointment, the Raiders made sure to avoid a repeat on Thursday, Oct. 4 in an MRC matchup against Watertown-Mayer.
After outlasting the Royals in the opening pair of games, both of which required extra points (27-25, 26-24), the Raiders buried Watertown-Mayer in the final set 25-12.
“We fought the first two games. That third game, to come out and win 25-12, that was huge,” said Hammers. “Overall, everyone performed really well that night. Nicole served great. Our defense was there, our passing was there. Sami stepped it up with 12 kills, which was great, and she was getting some blocks too. We were clicking. The last three home matches have really been good for us, going three and out.”
Miller had 15 kills, six aces, and two blocks to lead the team in all three categories. Brinkmann had a big game from the middle with 12 kills, and Erpenbach added nine kills.
Stockman had 23 assists and 14 digs, Brazil added 14 digs and Abby Forner had 10 assists.
With a second conference win in the books, is Hammers happy with the way the season is progressing?
“With this group? Always,” she said. “They work really hard and they’ve done some really good things.”