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College Volleyball: Raiders make statement in consolation semifinals

The Central Lakes College Raiders faced Rowan College in the consolation semifinals.

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Central Lakes College's Jacey Rydberg hits the ball over the net Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, during the consolation semifinals of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!
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ROCHESTER — Jacey Rydberg saved her best for the national stage.

The Central Lakes College freshman pounded down 11 kills to go with three ace serves and a block as the No. 4 seeded Raiders swept the No. 8 Rowan College Roadrunners 3-0 in the consolation semifinals of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament Friday, Nov. 12, at the Rochester Regional Sports Center.

“It was definitely not as skilled of a team as we faced Thursday, but we served and passed a lot better and so then other things happen a lot easier,” Raiders head coach Jane Peterson said.

Peterson said Rydberg has been a bright spot the entire national tournament.

“She’s ready to play and she’s one of those people who has been a setter in high school,” Peterson said. “I told her that this team needs her to be a hitter and she said ‘OK.’ It’s taken her some time to figure some things out, to think it through. She’s a processor and needs to know some things. She not only accepted but embraced her role as a hitter and showed up big. She’s not afraid to swing and made some smart shots.

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“She was aggressive and ready to play. Both days she was good”

Grace Peabody added 32 set assists to go with seven ace serves a dig and a block. The Raiders finished with 13 ace serves and just seven service errors. It was the serving game that landed the Raiders in the consolation bracket after No. 5 seeded SUNY swept CLC Thursday.

CLC Volleyball vs Rowan College

“We’ve been practicing serving every day since August and we just talked about how our serving wasn’t good enough (Thursday),” Peterson said. “Not just the fact that we missed serves, but the ones that did go in were nothing special. If you want to beat good teams you have to serve it more aggressively to the right spots. Maybe the pressure was off a little, but it was a different atmosphere. It was good from the beginning and consistent.”

CLC posted a .200 kill percentage, while Rowan was negative .188. The Roadrunners collected just eight kills as a team. Haley Schleper finished with nine kills and seven digs. Megan Rinicker tallied nine kills, five digs, three blocks and two aces.

“They weren’t hitting it that hard, but we did have a good block,” Peterson said. “Maybe they were easy to read so that our defense was there and we started off by blocking the ball a few times. They were where we were (Thursday). If you can’t pass and you’re running around everywhere then they don’t have the best attacks. We did make some good defensive plays, but there weren’t that many of them that were really, really difficult.”

Sophomore libero Sarah Bennett finished with 12 digs as CLC never trailed in the first two sets. It jumped to a 6-3 lead in the opening set and led 4-1 in the second set. In the third, Rowan led 3-2 before a Jaime Johnson kill tied it. Back-to-back Rydberg kills handed CLC a 5-3 lead, which it never relinquished.

“We talked about that before we came down here that Jacey is a surprise to people and also about getting her the ball in the time and the right place,” Peterson said. “Grace is making very good decisions about who to set when and where and she can make good decisions when she’s not running everywhere getting passes.

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“When a hitter is on, it’s a team effort that gets her the ball in the right place and the right time with the defense not being set to defend her.”

With the score 15-9 in the third set, CLC, Rowan suffered five attack errors and a service error and Rydberg and Johnson both registered kills pushing the Raiders’ lead to 23-9.

The match ended with a Peabody ace serve.

“I’m proud that this team could bounce back,” Peterson said. “Last night felt bad. It was very disappointing to everybody. When a team puts in so much hard work it’s disappointing when you realize you’re not going to get your goal. I’m proud that we could get over it and enjoy the opportunity we did have today. I hope we can do the same thing (Saturday) -- embrace the opportunity and go for it.”

Rowan College 14 10 11
Central Lakes 25 25 25

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Raider statistics
Elle Sutton 2 digs
Haley Schleper 9 kills, 7 digs
Gabbie Enneking 1 ace serve, 4 digs
Sarah Bennett 1 set assist, 12 digs
Grace Peabody 1 kill, 32 set assists, 7 ace serves, 1 dig, 1 block
Megan Rinicker 9 kills, 2 ace serves, 5 digs, 3 blocks
Tori Plemel 3 digs, 2 digs, 2 blocks
Jacey Rydberg11 kills, 3 ace serves, 1 block
Jaime Johnson 4 digs, 1 dig, 1 block
Kaitlyn Hines 1 dig
Overall: CLC 22-10, RCSJ 18-5. Next: Central Lakes vs. Butler County in the fifth-place match in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament noon, Saturday, Nov. 13.

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The Central Lakes College Raiders bench celebrates after the Raiders swept Rowan College 3-0 Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in the consolation semifinals of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament in Rochester. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

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