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Busy week for Raider volleyball team

Senior Amber Saathoff (6) sets the ball for junior Stephanie Little in the first game of the Raiders' 3-0 loss to Eau Claire North last Tuesday at the high school gym. Photo by Bob Burrows

The Raider volleyball team split a pair of matches on back-to-back nights against Baldwin-Woodville and Eau Claire North last week, before playing to a third-place finish at the Cretin-Derham Hall Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Head coach Dennis Saathoff said the team played poorly in a 5-set win over Baldwin-Woodville last Monday, but looked better despite being swept by Eau Claire North Tuesday.

"Except for set three, which we really let get away from us, the girls played right with North," he said. "We gave up one run of points in each of the first two sets that we couldn't overcome, but the girls gained confidence from their play."

After defeating Baldwin-Woodville Monday night by scores of 18-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-25, 15-13, the Raiders were swept the following night by the Huskies, 18-25, 20-25, 9-25.

Saathoff said the Raiders looked ragged from the serving line in Monday's win.

"We also did not get set defensively quickly enough," he said. "We were always in reaction mode instead of being ahead of the play with our feet."

Stephanie Little led the team in kills and blocks while Jamie Lindstrom played strong on the left side to finish second in both kills and blocks.

"When we passed well, our middle attack was hard to stop," Saathoff said.

Ashley Fall led the team in service aces and Maddie Drewiske led the team in service receptions while finishing second to Hannah Wirth in defensive digs.

The following night against Eau Claire North, Little, Britni Eberlin, Katrina Zenz and Amber Saathoff led the team in kills and Little and Zenz tied for the team lead in blocks while Saathoff was tops in assists. Wirth led the Raiders in both service receptions and defensive digs.

Saturday at the Cretin-Derham Hall Tournament, the Raiders beat St. Agnes 25-14, 25-10 and St. Paul Johnson 25-15, 25-11 before losing to East Ridge 13-25, 26-28 in round robin play. They went on to defeat St. Peter 25-13, 23-25, 15-9 in the third place match.

"Overall, it was a good day for us," Saathoff said. "We played more relaxed and with more confidence than we have been playing with. We got an early jump on St. Agnes and never let them into the match. Hannah Wirth recorded seven service aces and the rest of the team kept them moving enough to disrupt their chances of getting any offense going."

Elle Schwartz, Zenz and Eberlin led the team in kills against St. Agnes while Saathoff said Alexa Belanger and Torrie Traynor played a solid match in the win over St. Paul Johnson.

"Belanger played well at the net and Traynor covered a good deal of court in the back row defensively," he said. "Our attack wasn't very well balanced against East Ridge, as the majority of our kills came from the left side again in Jamie Lindstrom and Britni Eberlin."

Saathoff said the last match was an overall good team effort.

"Every girl who played in the front row recorded kills, four of the six severs recorded aces, and three recorded blocks," he said.

The Raiders will travel to Mora, Minn., Saturday, Oct. 9 for another tournament.

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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