The Hudson volleyball team hadn’t reached the sectional round of the WIAA postseason since 2007, so despite last week’s three-set loss to River Falls in the sectional semifinals in New Richmond, the Raiders still held their heads high.
“We pushed to the very end,” senior co-captain Sara Hoffman said. “Second place in the conference and getting past regionals; just to do that is really amazing for us because last year we didn’t place that high in conference. So just to be able to push through to this point was really cool for us.
It was a short night for the Raiders as the eventual sectional champion Wildcats won by scores of 25-11, 25-15, 25-15.
After dropping the first set, Hudson got an early ace from Kaitlyn Zignego and a pair of kills from Noelle Kiltie to pull out to a 4-1 lead in the second, but River Falls responded with a 12-7 run and led 16-9 before a Hudson time out. The Raiders got as close as five, 19-14, before losing the final two sets 25-15, 25-15.
“We actually played pretty well,” Raider coach Dennis Saathoff said. “But River Falls has a lot of offensive weapons and we just didn't match up well against their size.”
Kiltie led the Raiders in kills with four and added two blocks for points while Matuke and Jenna Hallen had two kills each. Shay Wassman and Jade Sharretts had identical stat lines and led the team in hitting percentage at .333.
Setters Zignego and Liz Collinson were almost identical in their statistics, each accounting for a service ace while Zignego dished out seven assists and Collinson had five. Zignego also tied Ariana Zins for team-high in digs with eight while Maddie Matuke and Sara Hoffman had seven digs each. Abby Richardson was consistent in serve-receive, recording 10 receptions with no errors.
Saathoff said it was a tough night for the team’s 13 seniors as it marked the final match of their high school careers, but they have a lot to be proud of this season.
“They went out in second place in the conference and as regional champions, which we had not accomplished since 2007,” he said. “I was very proud of how well the team played, never giving up, always trying to do their best and supporting one another. It truly was a fun season.”
Hoffman said she had one piece of advice for her younger teammates.
“Always have a mindset that you can do anything if you put your mind to it,” she said. “Be open to any possibility and work hard for it.”