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Volleyball: Spikers post first win in new gym

Senior Madison Jones goes up high for a kill attempt in the first set of the Raider volleyball team's 3-1 victory over Rice Lake Thursday, Oct. 4, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Junior Abby Richardson (8) delivers one of her team-high 11 kills in the Raider volleyball team's four-set victory over Rice Lake Thursday, Oct. 4, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

The Hudson volleyball team only played one match last week, but it was a big one.

The Raiders christened the newly-remodeled high school gym with a homecoming week, four-set victory over Rice Lake Thursday, Oct. 4, to keep them in contention for a second-place finish in the Big Rivers Conference.

Hudson defeated the Warriors by scores of 25-15, 23-25, 25-15, 25-21 in the inaugural sporting event in the glistening new school gymnasium.

"I was very excited for the girls to be able to notch the first varsity sport win in this wonderful new space during homecoming week," Raider coach Dennis Saathoff said. "With all of that going on there were plenty of distractions which could have negatively impacted the performance of the team, but they pulled together and stayed focused and played with energy throughout the match, which was really fun to see."

Abby Richardson and Madison Jones turned in their best offensive performances of the season with 11 and six kills, respectively, while Noelle Kiltie contributed eight kills and three service aces while hitting a team-high .500. Sara Hoffman chipped in with seven kills and four aces.

As has been the case all season, Hudson's setters posted similar numbers with Elizabeth Collinson getting 19 assists and three aces, and Kaitlyn Zignego contributing 16 assists and five aces, along with seven digs.

The Raiders had their best blocking night of the season at the net wit a total of 13 blocks for points, led by Kiltie with five solo blocks and Shay Wassman and Jenna Hallen with three each.

Saathoff said the Matuke sisters-- Maddie and Abbie-- didn't record any points for blocks but got their hands on plenty of balls that allowed Hudson's back row defenders to keep in play.

"Our net play was strong enough to cause the best Rice Lake hitters to start hitting balls deep out of bounds and to tip into our defensive set-up to help our girls transition quickly into offensive mode," Saathoff said.

Defensively, libero Olivia Goulette and defensive specialist Ariana Zins handled over half of the Raider's service receptions with only one error between them. Goulette led the team with 20 digs as well.

Hudson is one of four teams entering the final week of the regular season tied for second place at 3-2 in BRC play. River Falls has already clinched its third straight conference title but a Raider win Thursday, Oct. 11, at Eau Claire Memorial (0-5) would ensure Hudson of at least a tie for second place in the final league standings.

Following Thursday's BRC finale the Raiders will play in the Altoona Invitational Saturday, Oct. 13, before beginning WIAA regional play Thursday, Oct. 18.

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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