College Volleyball: Raider women ready for 2014 season
Building momentum from last year's run to the national tournament, five Central Lakes College sophomores and six newcomers will attempt to go even farther as the Raiders travel to Willmar Friday and Saturday to open the 2014 season.
Alyssa Hamilton, Kelly Pearson, Sam Schlangen, Shelby Uphoff, and Cassie Shaver return from a team that finished 29-3 last season.
"There are five sophomores who experienced a real team last season," said CLC head coach Jane Peterson. "They are all together in having high expectations of themselves and their teammates. I have total trust in them, which is a great place for a coach to be. They have been great models of how to be great teammates, and focused learners in the gym."
Peterson enters her 24th season for the Raiders while assistant coach Ken Miller starts his 11th season. Peterson has led CLC to three national titles and was also named West Region Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
One thing that Peterson stresses to her team is their role in the team concept.
"Each player is accountable to their teammates. I really try to get them to make it their own experience, not mine. It is their team," said Peterson. "It is new for most of them to have the responsibility of leading more (for the sophomores) and for being responsible for attention and effort of the highest level every day (for the first years).
"I am asking them to be engaged, active students of the game. While it is my responsibility to teach, it is their responsibility to learn. I feel more responsible for developing our confidence, which we had a lot of last year."
This weekend the Raiders will go up against teams based in North Dakota and Iowa. They will play North Dakota State College of Science, Lake Region, Jamestown and Ellsworth.
Later in the season, the Raiders will head to Rochester for a two-day tournament and then to Illinois for another tournament.
Scheduling the most formidable opponents possible has always been a big part of Peterson's strategy and is certainly the case this year.
"This is the most challenging schedule a CLC team can possibly have," she said. "In the 12 tournament matches we will play, 10 of those will be against nationally ranked Division III teams or Division II teams. Teams with high standards cannot be afraid to lose.
"We will hopefully enter our postseason with the confidence of knowing we did everything we could to prepare to be the best team we can be."
After competing at Willmar, the Raiders will return home on Labor Day weekend with matches against Mesabi on Friday night and Vermilion on Saturday to open the regular season.
One of the reasons for the success of last year's team was their passing and it is an area the Peterson is stressing.
"Each team has different strengths and weaknesses. New to this year's team is a focus on service receive passing," Peterson said. "We were just so consistent at that last year. It will be tough to be better.
"We will also have to spread the ball around a little more. We are challenging ourselves to be as fast as we can be because our physical presence won't scare anyone. But we're versatile and athletic and smart.
"We have all the potential to be a championship team. We just have to not hold ourselves back with fear or self criticism and doubt."
(number, name, position, height, high school, year)
2-Alyssa Hamilton, OH, 5-9, West Lutheran, 2
3-Kelly Pearson, OH, 5-8, Staples/Motley, 2
4-Ashley Abear, L, 5-3, Pequot Lakes, 1
5-Sam Schlangen, S/H, 5-7, Albany, 2
6-Ashton Kapphahn, S/H, 5-7, Bertha-Hewitt, 1
7-Shelby Uphoff, MH, 5-10, Melrose, 2
8-Alex Lucken, DS, 5-2, Pierz, 1
9-Jenny Skoog, MH, 5-9, Menahga, 1
10-Journee Howard, MH, 5-9, Pine-River Backus, 1
12-Ellen Stromgren, OH, 5-10, Superior, Wis., 1
13-Cassie Shaver, L, 5-5, Albany, 2
Head coach: Jane Peterson
Assistant coach: Ken Miller
8/22, vs North Dakota State College of Science at Willmar 11 a.m.
8/22, vs Ridgewater at Willmar 5 p.m.
8/23, vs Lake Region (N.D.) at Willmar 11:30 a.m.
8/23, vs Jamestown (N.D.) JV at Willmar 3:30 p.m.
8/29, Mesabi 6:30 p.m.
8/30, Vermilion noon
9/5, Harper (Ill.) at Rochester Tournament 3 p.m.
9/5, Rochester at Rochester Tournament 5 p.m.
9/6, Madison (Wis) at Rochester Tournament 9 a.m.
9/6, Anoka-Ramsey at Rochester Tournament 11 a.m.
9/10, at Northland 6:30
9/13, at Ridgewater Tournament
9/13, at Ridgewater Tournament
9/17, at Hibbing 6:30
9/22, at Rainy River 6:30
9/24, Itasca 6:30
10/4, at Mesabi 2 p.m.
10/8, Northland 6:30
10/11, at Vermilion noon
10/11, vs. Gogebic at Vermilion 2 p.m.
10/14, at Itasca 6:30
10/17, Elgin (Ill.) at Rock Valley, Ill., Tournament 3 p.m.
10/17, Kalamazoo (Mich.) at Rock Valley Tournament 5 p.m.
10/18, Waubonsee (Ill.) at Rock Valley Tournament noon
10/18, vs Saulk Valley (Ill.) at Rock Valley Tournament 2 p.m.
10/24, Rainy River 6:30
10/25, Hibbing noon
10/31, Region 13B semifinals at North No. 1 Seed
11/1, Region 13B championship at North No. 1 Seed
11/14, National Tournament, Rochester, MN
11/15, National Tournament