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Members of the Raider volleyball team show off their first place trophy after taking first place at the Hudson Invitational last Saturday at the high school. In front row from left are Mariah Buelow, Kathryn Draper, Matia Zins, Ashley Hall and Hannah Bennett. In back are coach Dennis Saathoff, Melissa Hammer, Hannah Cook, Brooke Little, Natalie Hall, Katy Fox, Ellie Smith and Kaylyn Jenkins. (Submitted photo)

Raider volleyball team puts together a strong week, goes 6-0

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Hudson Star Observer
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River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The Raider volleyball team rolled to six straight victories last week, including beating Menomonie twice -- once in the Big Rivers Conference opener last Thursday and against in the championship match of Saturday's Hudson Invitational.

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The Raiders will try to keep their winning streak intact when they travel to Rice Lake for a BRC match this Thursday, Sept. 19. They'll have a week off before returning home to host Eau Claire Memorial next Thursday, Sept. 26.

Hudson took care of Menomonie in three straight sets, 25-18, 25-14, 25-17, before a raucous home crowd in its BRC opener last Thursday.

"This was by far the best our team has played to date. We passed well, we served well, we played good defense and we really moved the ball around to all of our hitters on offense. We had a lot of energy and never had a letdown throughout the entire match," head coach Dennis Saathoff said. "We also had a great crowd led by a large group of vocal high school students, so the atmosphere was great. We have always had a good following by the parents and it was really nice to see the students getting excited about our volleyball team."

Katy Fox led the Raider hitters with nine kills and Hannah Cook added six while Cook also had a pair of blocks. Brooke Little and Ashley Hall were almost identical in set assists with 12 and 11, respectively, while Kathryn Draper led the defense with 16 digs and 15 service receptions.

"As a team we only had two service reception errors, by far our best performance in that area for the young season," Saathoff said.

Saturday the Raiders hosted the eight-team Hudson Invitational and completed round robin play with wins over Colfax (19-25, 25-21, 15-7), Bloomer (25-13, 15-12) and Prescott (25-18, 25-18). The faced Menomonie for the second time in three days in the championship match and came away with a 25-19, 21-25, 15-9 victory.

Saathoff said the Raiders started a little slow in the first match against Colfax with some untimely service errors but got stronger as the day progressed.

"Our attack and defensive games were so evenly distributed we really didn't have any clear leaders for the day," he said. "We had different leaders in different matches, which was nice to see that we were getting the ball to the hottest hitters in each match. On the day we almost tripled the number of aces that our opponents had against us, and we doubled the number of block winners."

Hudson started the week with a grueling five set, nonconference win over Baldwin-Woodville by scores of 22-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 15-7.

"We committed a lot of service errors, which led to us playing from behind in sets one and three and we just couldn't overcome our own mistakes," Saathoff said. "Sets two, four and five were much less error prone and our passing was better also, which allowed our offense to click better."

Kaylyn Jenkins led the offense with 15 kills and just one hitting error while Cook recorded 12 kills and led the team with four blocks. Little dished out a team-high 28 set assists and drilled six service aces while Matia Zins added a kill and six service receptions along with some solid defensive play, according to Saathoff.

"Overall, it was a very solid week," he said.

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Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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