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College Volleyball: Raiders finish third in national tournament

ROCHESTER -- The third-place match was anticlimactic. Simply, Central Lakes was way too much for SUNY Adirondack (N.Y.) on Saturday in the NJCAA National Volleyball Tournament at Rochester Community and Technical College. It was 3-0 Raiders, with...

ROCHESTER - The third-place match was anticlimactic.

Simply, Central Lakes was way too much for SUNY Adirondack (N.Y.) on Saturday in the NJCAA National Volleyball Tournament at Rochester Community and Technical College.

It was 3-0 Raiders, with the scores not even indicating how in charge No. 2-ranked and No. 2-seeded CLC really was as it won 25-12, 25-19, 25-21.

Game One set the tone for the rest of the match, with CLC quickly opening a gaping 18-2 lead.

“Only one of the teams was really here to win the match,” said CLC coach Jane Peterson, hinting that No. 5 seed SUNY Adirondack may have realized it was overmatched from the start.

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The Raiders rode balance in their final match of the season. Lindsay Monson and Sam Schlangen each had nine kills, while Kelly Pearson had seven. Schlangen also added 14 assists, and Tiffany Hartung 15 assists and six ace serves.

While the Raiders’ season finale lacked drama, there was still plenty of emotion. That happened after the match, when Peterson and her players considered what a magical and satisfying season this had been, despite what had happened Friday.

CLC finished 29-3 overall, and was one day removed from a heartbreaking five-game loss in the national semifinals to Ridgewater.

“We were all disappointed that we didn’t play in the championship (which was won 3-0 by Madison),” Peterson said. “But sometimes when you set as high a standard as we do, you’re disappointed.”

Peterson didn’t hesitate when explaining the root of that high standard this season. It came from her group of five prized sophomores - Monson, Tiffany Hartung, Tatum Hall, Sarah Miller and Kieana Wurtinger.

Peterson has rarely had a group like them. That’s why she got emotional as she told about their influence.

“This might be the strongest group of sophomore leaders I’ve ever had, on and off the court,” said Peterson, in her 23rd year as CLC coach. “After we lost in the region final last year, this group decided to do everything just a little bit different.”

As in a little bit harder, and more driven. They did it, led by middle hitter Monson, who Peterson said is a lock to be bestowed with All-American honors this year.

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“Lindsay was not afraid to take that leadership role,” Peterson said. “It’s so easy to love and respect her. She’s someone you can fully trust.”

The admiration went both directions.

Monson started and ended her career counting her blessings that Peterson was her coach. After her high school career at Pierz where she and the Pioneers didn’t enjoy great success, Monson won almost exclusively at CLC.

She went away knowing why.

“It was such a blessing to come here and play for (Peterson),” Monson said. “She is a coach who believes in us and always puts in extra time with us. And this team, this was the best one I’ve ever played on.”

The freshmen returning next season believe the winning ways will continue. They hope to make it happen as they harken back to what this season’s sophomores taught them.

“All of us got along so well, and the sophomores always made us freshmen feel so welcome,” Pearson, a freshman outside hitter said. “I’m going to miss them, and I’ll always remember how funny they all were. We hope to keep the good vibe going.”

Third place

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Central Lakes 25 25 25

SUNY Adirondack 12 19 21

Central Lakes statistics

Alyssa Hamilton 3 kills, 2 digs, 2 blocks.

Kelly Pearson 7 kills, 3 digs.

Sarah Miller 7 digs.

Sam Schlangen 9 kills, 5 digs, 1 block, 14 assists.

Shelby Uphoff 5 kills, 2 digs, 1 block.

Tiffany Hartung 6 assists 9 digs, 15 assists.

Lindsay Monson 9 kills, 2 digs, 3 blocks, 1 ace, 2 assists.

Overall: CLC finishes season 29-3.

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