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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Raiders will need time to develop

Change can be a good thing, and the Central Lakes College Raiders will face a lot of it as they prepare to open the 2012-2013 season.

The Raiders open on the Brainerd campus in the CLC Fall Classic on Friday night. CLC will play five of its first six games at home, and that could be a crucial time for a team that will be coming together with just three players returning from the 2011-2012 team that finished 8-14 overall .

“It’s going to take us time to jell as we will have two volleyball players coming off a very successful season and we need to get them implemented into our program,” said CLC head coach Dennis Eastman, who enters his 23rd season. “Watching this team develop will be fun as they work hard and are fun to be around.”

The two volleyball players are Lindsay Monson and Carlie Sweet, both of whom are beginning their first year on the team. Monson is a freshman; Sweet did not play last season.

Kara Krotzer, Emily Weber, and Jalynn Lamb are the returning members of last year’s team. Elizabeth Matson played on last year’s squad but will be a student assistant coach this year.

Last year, the Raiders struggled down the stretch and finished 2-10 in the Southern Division. They return to the Northern Division this season.

The competition may not be easier in the North as Northland and Mesabi Range, who played in last year’s Region 13B final, are ranked No. 7 and No. 9 in the NJCAA Division III preseason poll.

However, there will be benefits for the Raiders in returning to a division that they are more familiar with.

“I think it helps,” Eastman said of the switch. “Rochester, Worthington and Austin are 4- to 5-hour bus rides one way. It gets to be a long day and still keeping up with school work. Sometimes it became difficult for some players.

“From a competitive standpoint, we know the teams and coaches and that helps in preparation for games.”

The starting five Friday night will be Sierra Benning, who along with fellow starter Taalyr Egeness is a transfer from North Dakota College of Science. Ashley Arenson is a transfer from Northwestern College in Roseville. Weber and Lamb will round out the starting five.

Eastman counts the experience that Benning, Egeness, and Arenson bring as a bonus along with good shooting. CLC needs to work on establishing consistency and aggressive play.

Key home games on the Raiders’ schedule include a Nov. 30 game against Anoka-Ramsey, which is ranked No. 2 in the preseason Division III poll. They will host Northland on Jan. 30 and Mesabi on Feb. 20.

A fast start is the key, and the Raiders hope for a successful weekend in the fall classic, which also includes Bismarck State, United Tribes and Quakerdale Prep.

“The last two years it seems we got off to a quick start and faded down the stretch,” Eastman said. “We have a lot of local players and three of the new faces are transfers from other colleges. This helps because of the experience they bring. We are looking forward to a competitive season.”

Raiders roster

Name, position, height, high school, year

Sierra Benning, G, 5-2, Eagle Valley, 2

Jessica Kadus, G, 5-5, Pillager, 1

Mariya Pierskalla, G, 5-5, Holdingford, 1

Kara Krotzer, F, 5-8, Milaca, 2

Ashley Arenson, G, 5-9, Woodbury, 2

Taalyr Egeness, G, 5-10, Eagle Valley, 2

Emily Weber, F, 5-10, Pierz, 2

Carlie Sweet, F, 5-11, Brainerd, 1

Lindsay Monson, C, 6-0, Pierz, 1

Jalynn Lamb, C, 6-0, Brainerd, 2