The Raiders girls volleyball team had another hectic week, but in this case it could have served them better, as except for easy wins against Ellsworth and Ironwood, their level of play never fully spiked.
Matches started on Tuesday, Sept. 16, with a Big Rivers Conference match in Rice Lake where Hudson ended up losing in five games 20-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 10-15.
All five contests were a back and forth battle, with the team making the biggest run at the end being the victor in each one.
"It was truly a match where momentum at the right time was the key. We missed some serves at critical times during the match and at times our passing wasn't as sharp as it can be," said Coach Dennis Saathoff. "When we passed well our offense was very good and they had a hard time stopping our attack."
Two days later, the Raiders were back at home against a non-conference opponent in Ellsworth, which has always been good at keeping balls alive. "This match was no different. Ellsworth played a lot of attack balls up, but ultimately our offense was too much for them," Saathoff said. Hudson won in three straight games 25-18, 25-11, 25-15.
The offense was well balanced with Cat Malin, Alicia Bower, Morgan Zabel, Rachael Saathoff and Natalie Horsman accounting for most of the kills. Lindsey Burton and Amber Saathoff had almost identical nights in set assists and service aces, with Amber Saathoff leading the team in service percentage.
On Saturday, the Raiders traveled to Maple for an invitational tournament at Northwestern High School. "The competition was very good, but unfortunately the Raiders finished seventh out of eight teams," Coach Saathoff said.
Pool play started against host Northwestern with a loss in two games 13-25, 18-25. Next was a three-game loss to Cameron 22-25, 25-15, 13-15. The last match of pool play also went to three games against Solon Springs, 16-25, 25-21, 15-17.
In the playoff round, Hudson easily took care of Ironwood in two games of 25-12, 25-12.
"It was a frustrating day because except for the first match against Northwestern, when we really never made a serious run, we probably should have won the other matches," Coach Saathoff said. "We played very well in streaks but we never got to the point of sustaining our level of play. Several times as we got a run going, we missed a serve or tried to force a set to a bad spot. Or we hit a ball out of bounds that should have just placed into the court so we could play defense and use our blockers to their fullest.
"Our easy win over Ironwood in the playoffs indicates that we were a better team than what the seventh-place finish showed," Coach Saathoff said, adding that Hudson had an exceptional day at the net on the defensive side.
Rachael Saathoff, Bower and Zabel all recording multiple blocks and were also altering the attack of the opponents in other cases, forcing tips and roll shots.
On offense, the attack for the day was led by Malin, Zabel, Rachael Saathoff, Britni Eberlin and Jennifer Schemenauer. "Defensively we started slow but picked it up later in the day. Katie Deutsch really started reading and moving very well as the day progressed. She started digging some very hard hit balls that in the past would have hit the floor," Coach Saathoff said.
"Kami Johnson also started playing better defense as the day went on, as she recorded the second highest number of digs on the team for the day. Once again the setting duo of Lindsey Burton and Amber Saathoff had almost identical numbers for the day, with Saathoff recording more service aces but this time with Burton leading the team in service percentage."
Hudson gets a little break in the hectic schedule with only a conference match on Sept. 30 at Chippewa Falls and then an invitational in Mora, Minn. on Oct. 4.
"The fan support has continued to be great at home and away matches and the girls are really enjoying it," Coach Saathoff said. "Against Ellsworth, the team decided on a 'camo' theme night and a good number of students came clad in their gear. Coupling that with Parents Night made it a really fun evening. With the season hitting the second half and playoffs coming up quicker than we can imagine, we hope to keep growing the fan base. The kids play a lot better when they can feel the enthusiasm from the crowd."