With last Thursday’s road victory at Rice Lake, the Hudson volleyball team put itself in position to secure a second place finish in the Big Rivers Conference with a win over Eau Claire Memorial in the regular season finale this Thursday, Oct. 17, at home.
The Raiders swept Rice Lake 25-23, 25-10, 25-22 to improve to 4-1 in BRC play with their lone loss coming against River Falls, who clinched their fourth straight conference title last week. This Thursday’s match against Memorial (2-2) tips off at 7 p.m. at the high school.
Last Thursday the Raiders gave up seven unanswered points to the Warriors to start the first set before rallying for a two-point win.
“We had a super slow start to the night but then we started to play solidly and maintained that through the rest of the night,” coach Dennis Saathoff said.
Although Sara Hoffman led the team in kills with 12, Jade Sharretts was Hudson’s most consistent hitter with 10 kills and only one error for a .750 hitting percentage.
Liz Collinson and Kaitlyn Zignego had almost identical stat lines with both recording one service ace to go along with 16 and 14 set assists, respectfully, while Ariana Zins contributed six defensive digs and 21 service receptions.
“Overall it was a very nice performance by the entire team,” Saathoff said. “It was good to see them come back after dropping seven points to start the night by scoring five points right back and then battling through to the very end.”
Saturday the Raiders bounced back from a slow start to take first place in the Silver Bracket at the Altoona Invitational.
Saathoff said they started pool play with two sub-par performances, losing to St. Croix Central 23-25, 25-20, 7-15 and Chippewa Falls McDonell 16-25, 13-25.
“We just really struggled with our consistency in these matches,” he said. “We couldn't put any solid runs together. If we passed well, we struggled with our attacks, and then we would pass poorly but make great sets and attacks, but we couldn't put all the facets together at one time.
Saathoff said middle hitters Noelle Kiltie and Shay Wassman led the team in kills and hitting percentage in both matches but the Raiders couldn't get them the ball enough due to their poor service reception game.
After what Saathoff described as an unfortunate 3-1/2 hour break between pool and bracket play, the Raiders found a much better groove and defeated Chippewa Falls 25-27, 25-21, 15-11, before avenging an early season loss to Osceola in straight sets, 25-23, 25-18.
Hudson recorded 11 service aces and just two service errors against Chippewa Falls with Belle Blakey registering 11 digs and 16 service receptions.
Against Osceola the Raiders didn't serve quite as well but their blocking was solid, which caused the Chieftains to make a number of hitting errors. Hudson’s team hitting percentage was also better with a balanced offense led by Kiltie and Hoffman with five kills each.
“Given the struggles we had early in the day we really turned it around and finished quite strongly, which the girls should feel very proud about,” Saathoff said.