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College Volleyball: Raiders prep for Region 13B

As the Central Lakes College Raider women prepare for the Region 13B tournament Friday and Saturday on the campus of Central Lakes, they hold a regular season of dominance over the other teams in the tournament.

As the Central Lakes College Raider women prepare for the Region 13B tournament Friday and Saturday on the campus of Central Lakes, they hold a regular season of dominance over the other teams in the tournament.

The Raiders finished division play with a 14-0 record and in the six games played against Mesabi, Rainy River and Itasca - the other teams in the tournament - CLC has only dropped one set.

No. 1 seeded Raiders will open the tournament 6 p.m. Friday against No. 4 Itasca. No. 2 Mesabi will face No. 3 seeded Rainy River following. The winner of the two games will battle for the region championship noon Saturday

The Raiders are preparing for Vikings' hitter Denia Brown, who is third in hitting percentage at .364 behind CLC's Rachel Mathias(.396) and Ashton Kapphahn (.381).

"Our main area of focus will be doing what we do best, but Denia does provide a challenge for us," said CLC head coach Jane Peterson. "We have been great students of the game and pretty quick to learn and improve where we need to. We will know what to expect from her. I hope we can finish that game and feel good about how we defended her.

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"Our serving game and our offense can have an impact on how good she can be. We will not let one player beat us."

This past weekend the Raiders finished up the regular season with wins at Hibbing Friday and Rainy River Saturday. Peterson came away impressed with how her team is playing heading into the tournament.

"I said to the team after Saturday's game that I've never had more confidence in this team," said Peterson. "We have so many people who are contributing in so many ways. So many who aren't playing as much as they want to who come to practice every day and try to get better. I can't believe that anyone else's practice environment is as competitive as ours.

"This past weekend we played some really good team volleyball. It's so hard to say who our best player is. Everyone has a great understanding of what their job is. When mistakes happen players are often coaching themselves and each other about how to fix it. It's been really rare that this team is looking to me for answers. They have so much knowledge and experience that they can figure out the answers for themselves most of the time."

The defensive, offensive, and all-around players of the week were announced early in the week and they will be at the tournament this weekend. Kapphahn was the setter of the week and she leads the division with 761 set assists for the season.

Mesabi's Kacey Herring was the hitter of the week with 14 kills against Itasca. Katie Lenci of Mesabi was the all-around player of the week with 20 set assists, 10 digs and five kills in a win against Itasca. Jasmine Draper of Rainy River took the defensive award. She leads the MCAC with 550 digs.

The Raiders are currently ranked third in the latest NJCAA poll and Itasca finished in the ninth spot nationally.

"Our focus for this week is to be just the team we are and just play," Peterson said. "We don't have to do anything different. We need to be prepared to work hard. Very few wins have come totally easy for us this year. We need to be prepared to struggle. We have some experience at that and have almost always pulled through.

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"We need to rely on each other. Our strength is that we have a complete team with lots of options and more than a few good players. We don't have to be perfect, it's just fun to try. We've had short practices focusing on fundamentals, specific situations and "just playing". When we don't think too much we are really good."

Related Topics: COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL
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The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Rainy River Saturday, Feb. 4.
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Rainy River Saturday, Feb. 4.
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Hibbing Friday, Feb. 3.
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Gogebic Community College Friday, Feb. 3.