College Volleyball: Raiders remain unbeaten in division play with 3-0 sweep
The Central Lakes College Raiders
BRAINERD — Depth and experience were keys for Central Lakes College in a 3-0 sweep over Northland Wednesday, Sept. 28, in a battle of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Northern Division.
Megan Rinicker and Jaime Johnson led the offensive attack. Rinicker tallied 15 kills, one set assist, one ace serve, four digs and three blocks while Johnson totaled 12 kills, five digs and one block.
CLC, ranked third in the latest NJCAA Division III poll, moved to 9-0 in division play while Northland dropped to 6-3 and third in the division standings. The Raiders also swept the season series after beating Northland 3-0 Aug. 31.
Twelve different players saw action and six different players recorded kills, led by the two second-year players Johnson and Rinicker. Northland countered with an attack focused on one player, Madison Witte, who the Raiders kept under control.
“When the other team is predictable and they have one player who they rely on to score, and she did score some, she is a good player, but they are pretty one dimensional,” Raiders head coach Jane Peterson said. “They rarely set the ball to the outside hitter so we didn’t have to worry about that with them. It makes our defense look even better.
“We served so tough that there were only so many times when they were attacking the ball hard on the serve receive. They didn’t pass well or we served well, or a little of each.”
Jenna Pelnis finished with two set assists, four ace serves and 18 digs to lead CLC’s back row defense. Gabbie Enneking contributed two ace serves and four digs.
“Communication is the key to winning anything,” Enneking said. “If you don’t have it you aren’t going to go very far. We may seem to be pretty good right now, but we work every day at practice to try and get better at that communication because you can never be perfect at it.”
Northland started quickly in Game One as it built an 8-3 lead before the Raiders went on a five-point run to tie the game at eight on a kill from Emersen Miller. The Raiders went on a 10-5 run and led 18-13 on a kill from Rinicker and went on to win 25-19.
Two ace serves from Ellie Sutton and a kill from Kalli Papenfuss handed CLC a quick 5-1 lead in Game Two. Both Sutton and Papenfuss saw extensive action in Games Two and Three with Papenfuss recording five kills, three ace serves, two digs and a block.
“They (Ellie and Kalli) played well,” Peterson said. “There is a little pressure on people to get on the court. There are so many people that can do the job. If someone isn’t doing their best then someone else is going to get a try. There also isn’t a big drop-off between starters and non-starters, whatever that means, there isn’t a big difference so there is pressure to perform.”
Another ace serve from Pelnis made it 13-6 and her fourth ace of the evening made it 21-11 in favor of the Raiders. A Rinicker tip gave CLC a 25-18 Game Two win.
In Game Three, the Raiders went on a 9-2 run to start the game and an ace from Allison Dornseif made it 13-5. An ace from Enneking increased the lead to 18-7 and CLC came away with a 25-16 win to close out the match.
The Raiders will get two more home games Friday and Saturday with games against Hibbing and Rainy River before hitting the road for their next seven games. Defense will be a key to success and Enneking likes where her teammates are at.
“It’s really important to have good players on the net and everyone on our team is amazing,” Enneking said. “It is super important to have everyone lined up in the right position so our defense on the back row can be in the right spot so we can at least get a hand on those balls deflected off the block and try to get a hand on it.”