HUDSON -- It’s not often a coach is happy with a fifth place finish at an eight-team invitational. But Hudson volleyball coach Dennis Saathoff was just fine with it after the Raider’s annual home invite last Saturday.
The Raiders were missing 10 varsity players due to all-day ACT testing. So after bringing up Jaeda Lockhart, Sam Borchart, Megan Schmidtknecht, Brenna Lundberg, Maya Susa and Marisa Gunderson from the JV team, and getting only an hour of practice together Friday night before the tournament, Saathoff said Saturday went even better than he expected.
“I was quite happy,” he said. “The girls from the JV team filled in admirably, with some of them needing to play positions they normally don't play on a regular basis. It was obvious as the day progressed that all of the girls were getting more comfortable playing with each other as the level of play got better and better as we went along. It was fun to see the improvement from the first match to the last.”
The Raiders dropped their first match of the day to Colfax, 2-0, and started to gel in the second round against Superior but came up short, 2-1. They finished round-robin play on an up note by sweeping Prescott 2-0 before defeating Menomonie in the fifth place match by the same score.
Hudson’s few remaining varsity players led the team in most statistical categories, with Carly Teersteg leading the team in kills on the day with 12 and Jade Sharrets registering 12. Liz Collinson recorded 25 service aces and Ariana Zinz had 10 while Zins also led the team in digs with 44 and Merrie Thao added eight.
Two nights earlier the Raiders hosted three-time Big Rivers Conference champion River Falls and lost in three sets by scores of 25-19, 25-14, 25-14. The Raiders had the Wildcats tied 18-18 in the opening set before River Falls pulled away.
“We still did some good things in sets two and three but we fell behind early and couldn't get any big runs of points to gain any momentum,” Saathoff said. “Unfortunately we struggled with missed serves the entire night, which was unusual for how we had been playing so far this season.”
Hudson’s offense was pretty well balanced across the hitting positions with Sara Hoffman leading the attack with six kills and Shay Wassman adding five. Jenna Hallen contributed four kills and Noelle Kiltie had three while Abby Richardson and Abbie Matuke posted two each. Kaitlyn Zignego dished out 11 set assists and Liz Collinson had nine while Zignego, Hoffman and Thao led the team in defensive digs.
The Raiders will host Baldwin-Woodville Tuesday, Sept. 17, before returning to BRC play at Eau Claire North Thursday, Sept. 19.