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College Volleyball: Raiders finish as national consolation champs

Central Lakes College faced Butler County in the fifth-place match of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament

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Central Lakes College freshman Megan Rinicker digs a ball Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, during the NJCAA Division III National Volleyball Tournament in Rochester. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

ROCHESTER — With the score tied 19-19 in the opening set, the No. 4 Central Lakes College Raiders decided enough was enough.

CLC rattled off six straight points to close with a 25-19 win and then cruised to a 3-0 victory over No. 6 Butler County to claim the consolation championship of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Rochester Regional Sports Center.

The final two sets went quickly as the Raiders won 25-13, 25-14 to finish with a 23-10 overall record.

“Once again, we just served and passed well which made it hard for them,” Raiders head coach Jane Peterson said. “Someone after the game, who I didn’t know, said that we were all together and really worked well as a team and we did. We communicated well and something about the end of the season, one last chance, was motivating, I guess., because we were just really good in all categories.”

Haley Schleper posted 11 kills, 13 digs, four blocks and three ace serves as the Raiders finished with seven total blocks. The Raiders also knocked down nine ace serves to keep the sixth-seeded Pioneers out of any offensive flow.

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“We rebounded well from a disappointing loss and we decided to have fun and put all of our hard work to use,” Peterson said. “The last two matches were fun. Everyone contributed and just played well together. A lot of good things happened. It was a whole team effort. It wasn’t necessarily one person standing out.”

Megan Rinicker led the Raiders with 18 digs to go with nine kills and five blocks. Those numbers and her play in all three tournament games landed the freshman a spot in the all-tournament team.

“She just played really well all the way around,” Peterson said. “She played really good defense. When someone that looks like her, tall and lanky and swings with a lot of power, and then goes to the back row and covers a lot of ground it’s impressive. She made a lot of good defensive plays.

“We had quite a few people that played well. Grace (Peabody) played well and Jacey (Rydberg) played well and no one really had bad games. I think it was Megan’s all-around contributions that stood out. The people picking the all-tournament team look at the stats. Megan’s number of digs and blocks were good.”

Grace Peabody finished with 34 set assists, six digs, two ace serves and a kill. Jacey Rydberg contributed six kills, three digs and two blocks and Jaime Johnson posted eight kills and three digs.

Sarah Bennett, playing in her final game as a Raider, collected nine digs, three ace serves and two set assists and Gabbie Enneking tallied 17 digs to go with two set assists.

“The excitement for next year has already started,” Peterson said. “The bus right home we’re already talking about how to do things differently or better. I am very excited about the number of people and the number of positions that will be returning. There are still a number of question marks. Some of them academically could figure out a way to be done before next fall. Whether they decide to hurry that process along or slow it down to come back that is something we’ll talk about with them. It is exciting to know that they’ve seen a national tournament and they understand what it is.”

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Butler County 19 13 14
Central Lakes 25 25 25

Raider statistics
Haley Schleper 11 kills, 3 ace serves, 13 digs, 4 blocks
Gabbie Enneking 2 set assists, 17 digs
Sarah Bennett 2 set assists, three ace serves, nine digs
Grace Peabody 1 kill, 34 set assists, 2 ace serves, 6 digs
Megan Rinicker 9 kills, 18 digs, 5 blocks
Tori Plemel 1 kill
Jacey Rydberg 6 kills, 1 set assist, 1 ace serve, 3 digs, 2 blocks
Jaime Johnson 8 kills, 3 digs
Kaitlyn Hines 1 dig, 1 block
Brooke Watland 3 kills, 1 dig
Overall: CLC 23-10.

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Megan Rinicker (No. 8) goes up for a block while setter Grace Peabody looks on for the Central Lakes College Raiders during the consolation semifinal match of the NJCAA Division III National Volleyball Tournament Friday, Nov 12, 2021, in Rochester. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

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