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College Volleyball: Raiders roll over Itasca

Despite a case of early nerves and falling behind in the first game, the top-seeded Central Lakes Raiders rebounded for a 3-0 Region 13B semifinal over the No. 4 seeded Itasca Vikings.

Central Lakes College’s Alex Lucken reacts to winning the third set against Itasca Friday, which sends CLC to the Region 13B Championship game. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)
Central Lakes College’s Alex Lucken reacts to winning the third set against Itasca Friday, which sends CLC to the Region 13B Championship game. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)

Despite a case of early nerves and falling behind in the first game, the top-seeded Central Lakes Raiders rebounded for a 3-0 Region 13B semifinal over the No. 4 seeded Itasca Vikings.

The Raiders, ranked No. 3 in the latest NJCAA Division III poll, pushed their overall record to 25-2 and recorded their 10th straight win.

Jenny Skoog and Rachel Mathias knocked down 12 kills and Ashton Kapphahn added 34 set assists.

Faith Kassulker and Britta Torgerson each served two aces and the Raiders had just 10 service errors. Ashley Abear recorded 14 digs and CLC finished with 10 blocks.

Itasca's Denia Brown entered Friday's game as one of the tournament's top hitters, but the Raiders were successful with their defensive strategy.

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"Stopping Denia (Brown) was our main person to keep from having a big game and I think we did a good job of keeping her under control," said Skoog.

Raiders head coach Jane Peterson said CLC was effective in their service game against Brown.

"I thought we did what we wanted to do and we got progressively better at it," Peterson said. "It was multiple factors, blocking, serving to the right place in aggressive enough ways that kept them from getting the ball to her, and trying to get her to make some mistakes."

The Raiders were the ones making errors early in Game One as Itasca pushed to a 15-13 lead.

"I feel like we just don't give up," Skoog said about being down early. "We have enough confidence and Jane has prepared us well enough and we know what it takes to beat a team and we know we can come back from anything."

The Raiders ran off six straight points to take an 18-12 lead. They held off a small Vikings rally and prevailed 25-20.

"We did a good job of serving, and (assistant coach) Ken Miller is in charge of that," Peterson said. "There were nerves at the beginning, but we didn't panic about being behind and pulled together for a good team effort."

The Raiders appeared more comfortable in the next two games and the scores showed as they won 25-9 and 25-15.

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In Game Two, the Raiders built an 11-2 lead and the Vikings never rebounded as CLC led 22-7 and put the game away on a Skoog kill.

In Game Three, CLC led 12-7 on a Mathias kill and 17-10 on another Skoog kill. It was a tip from Kapphahn at the net that finished off Itasca and advanced CLC to Saturday's regional championship against Mesabi, who beat Rainy River 3-1.

Itasca 20 9 15

Central Lakes 25 20 20

Central Lakes statistics

Justyne Litzau 1 ace serve, 2 digs

Jenny Skoog 12 kills, 2 set assists, 6 digs, 3 blocks

Alex Lucken 1 set assist, 2 digs

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Ashley Abear 14 digs

Kaitlynn Christen 8 kills, 1 block

Ashton Kapphahn 3 kills, 34 set assists, 8 digs

Ellen Stromgren 4 kills, 3 set assists, 1 dig, 1 block

Hannah Geroux 1 kill

Faith Kassulker 1 kill, 2 ace serves

Journee Howard 3 kills, 2 set assists, 3 digs, 1 block

Rachel Mathias 12 kills, 1 ace serve, 2 digs, 4 blocks

Britta Torgerson 2 ace serves, 7 digs

Overall: CLC 25-2. Next: Central Lakes hosts Mesabi in Region 13B championship 1 p.m. Saturday.

Central Lakes College’s Faith Kassulker (left), Rachel Mathias and Jenny Skoog block an attempted hit Friday against Itasca. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)
Central Lakes College’s Faith Kassulker (left), Rachel Mathias and Jenny Skoog block an attempted hit Friday against Itasca. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)

Related Topics: COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL
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