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College Volleyball: Raiders seek 4th national title

NJCAA Division III Championship UCR Regional Sports Center Rochester, MN Friday: Quarterfinals: No. 4 Central Lakes vs. No. 5 Columbus (Ohio) 12:30 p.m.; consolation semifinals 2 p.m., championship semifinals 3:30 p.m. Saturday: Seventh place 10 a.m.

NJCAA Division III Championship

UCR Regional Sports Center

Rochester, MN

Friday: Quarterfinals: No. 4 Central Lakes vs. No. 5 Columbus (Ohio) 12:30 p.m.; consolation semifinals 2 p.m., championship semifinals 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Seventh place 10 a.m., fifth place 10 a.m., third place 12:30 p.m., championship 2 p.m.

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As the seventh-ranked team, and Region 13B champions, the Central Lakes College Raiders travel to Rochester for the NJCAA Division III National Tournament this weekend with their sights set on the program's fourth national championship.

"It's like no other feeling," sophomore setter Lakyn Anderson said of going back to the national tournament. "Being in college and advancing is a feeling that you never forget, and it's something that I am so glad that I get to do again."

Under head coach Jane Peterson, the fourth-seeded Raiders won their last national title in 2007. In order to get back into the championship game, they will need to defeat Columbus State of Ohio in the quarterfinals Friday, then potentially face No. 1 Harper College of Illinois to earn a spot in championship match.

"In July, I was wondering how we would do and very unsure what was going to happen," Peterson said. "But then Kayla (Larson) decided to come and then Becca (Jensen) decided to come, and the setters got better, and the hitters figured out how to be smart, and the defenders figured out how to play, and now our serve-receive is so good. Now we always have a chance and this is a much improved team."

Columbus State upset ninth-ranked Butler County to earn their trip to the national tournament. They bring a 15-9 record into their matchup with the Raiders (21-11).

One of CLC's areas of improvement over the course of the season has been its attack game. Sophomore Rachel Mathias has provided steady play and she is averaging 4.03 kills per set which puts her fifth nationally. Kaitlynn Christen averages 2.31 kills per set and Britta Torgerson 2.00 kills per set.

Cozette Eastman, Larson and Jensen have also improved their game to give the Raiders a strong team at the net, which is crucial in the national tournament.

Columbus State averages 10.91 kills per set with Kaitlyn Ahrns and Hannah Wallace leading the team with 2.52 and 2.44 kills per set, respectively. They won 10 of their last 12 games to make it into the tournament. The Raiders average 11.58 kills per set.

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Top-seeded Harper enters the tournament having been ranked No. 1 from the beginning to the end of the season. Their 40-1 record includes a 3-0 win over CLC Sept. 10 by scores of 25-13, 25-19, 25-20.

Harper is led by Ellie Burzlaff who averages 2.88 kills per game, Kathryn Novy with 2.77, and Sarah Udoni with 2.01.

CLC lost just one conference game during the regular season. The other losses came in tournaments with two of those losses against Ridgewater which is ranked No. 3 and on the other side of the bracket. Ridgewater defeated CLC 3-1 Aug. 27 and 3-2 Oct. 30. On Oct. 30, CLC had a 2-1 lead before losing the fourth game 25-21 and the fifth 15-10.

Related Topics: COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL
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