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Raider volleyball team's season ends in regional final

Raiders Brooke Little (13), Katy Fox, Kathryn Draper (39) and Ellie Smith celebrate their first set victory over Superior in a WIAA Division 1 volleyball regional semifinal last Thursday at the high school gym. The Raiders went on to defeat the Spartans in five sets before losing Saturday at Chippewa Falls in the regional final. (Hudson Star-Observer photos by Bob Burrows)1 / 2
Hudson outside hitter Hannah Cook (6) goes up for a kill in the first set of the Raiders’ 3-2 victory over Superior last Thursday night at the high school gym. Cook led the Raiders with 11 kills in the victory.2 / 2

The Raider volleyball opened the postseason with a five-set victory over Superior in a WIAA regional semifinal match in Hudson last Thursday before losing to top-seed Chippewa Falls, 3-0, in the regional final Saturday in Chippewa Falls.

The eighth-seeded Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead over No. 9 Superior in Thursday’s semifinal, winning the first two sets by scores of 25-22, 26-24, before Superior squeaked out a 25-23 victory in set No. 3 and tied the match 25-16 in the fourth set. But Hudson stormed back to take the fifth and deciding set, 15-9, to move on.

“This was a tough match where we started off playing well, kind of went into a funk and then came back very strong to finish it off,” head coach Dennis Saathoff said.

Hudson’s attack was spread out with Hannah Cook leading the way with 11 kills, Katy Fox adding 10 and Kaylyn Jenkins finishing with nine. Ellie Smith and Melissa Hammer contributed six kills apiece with Hammer hitting at a stellar .857 clip. Natalie Hall also chipped in with five kills.

Brooke Little led a trio of Raider setters with 28 assists and six service aces while Hannah Bennett dished out 10 assists and Ashley Hall had four. Kathryn Draper set the tone on defense with a team-high 14 digs.

The win set up a rematch with Big Rivers Conference foe and No. 1 seed Chippewa Falls Saturday night and the Cardinals recorded a 25-13, 25-17, 25-17 victory.

“We had a very hard time scoring points in any length of runs and it seemed if we did they always countered with a run of their own,” Saathoff said.

Saathoff said the season-ending loss was especially hard on the team’s seniors , who played their last match in a Raider uniform.

“The entire team put in a great deal of effort over the season and they really were not ready for it to end,” he said.

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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