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Raiders battle to 4-2 mark at Scottsbluff tournament


With a 4-2 record the Sidney Red Raiders volleyball team lost out on a third-place tiebreaker to the Ogallala Indians at the two-day Twin Cities Volleyball Tournament over the weekend.

Though Ogallala and Sidney both finished with identical marks, Ogallala was awarded third by virtue of more set wins than the Raiders. Grand Island Northwest was the winner Rapid City Stevens came in second.

The Raiders, however, didn't seem especially interested in earning consolation prizes. Would that have been the case they wouldn't have volunteered to play the defending state champion Grand Island Northwest Vikings who breezed through the tournament with a 7-0 record.

Sidney's first scheduled opponent on Friday, the team from Torrington, Wyo., was kept home the on day one due to weather. Without a game to play, Sidney requested a match with the Vikings.

"We wanted to play Northwest," said Sidney Head Coach Sarah Wilson. "They're a very consistent team and can give us a good understanding of what we need to work on."

Grand Island stopped Sidney in straight sets, 25-14 and 25-12 to improve its season record to 23-0. In the Raiders second match on Friday they upended McCook 25-9 and 25-20.

"I thought it was important, especially for our younger players, to see a team that doesn't give you a break," Wilson said of Grand Island Northwest. "But they have holes too and we were able get to them on occassions."

On Saturday Sidney played four matches at three different venues. Against Cheyenne South at Scottsbluff High School Sidney won easily 25-14 and 25-11. The Raiders then travelled to Gering High School for a date with Rapid City Stevens, where they lost two close sets, 25-20 and 25-23.

The Raiders remained in Gering for a match with Alliance and downed their district mates 25-21 and 25-14. The win over Alliance keeps Sidney's record perfect in the district at 4-0. The team finished its day at Bluffs Middle School by knocking off Lexington 25-14 and 25-10.

"The tournament went pretty well I thought. We have a better understanding of where we are," said Raiders senior Cody Rowley. "Our team serving keeps on improving. Now we have a week to work what we need to."

The Raiders opening set against Alliance was the closest in its final two matches on Saturday. The Bulldogs kept Sidney from the lead unitl the Raiders nudged ahead at 12-11. Once Sidney took the lead they were never again headed. Alliance did, however, manage to pull even at 17-17.

Sidney was first able to forge a tie at five when Savanna Rosenbaum drove home a kill to the Bulldogs back court. But Sidney quickly fell back in a three-point hole. A Sarah Mahr ace pulled the Raiders back even at nine.

Mahr helped shut the door late when she started off a five-point service run with another ace. Scores by Annalise Lecher and Abbi Porter from the front line helped the cause.

Sidney's Maddi Porter opened the second set on the service line to help the Raiders jump out to a quick 4-0 advantage. Rowley and Vanessa Riley followed Porter behind the serving stripe and the Raiders forged a 7-2 lead. Though Alliance crept to within two at 9-7, the Dogs could never edge closer.

In the Raiders final match of the tournament, the Lexington Minutemaids were unable to stay with Sidney for long. Lexington led only once at 3-2. The Raiders slowly took control from there as a Sarah Mahr to Rowley to Abbi Porter exhange pulled Sidney back even. Mahr put them ahead on the next point with a kill.

The final tie at 5-5 was broken by another Mahr kill set up by sister Emily. Abbi Porter took the serve at that point and she guided Sidney to a 9-5 edge. While the game was still close at 17-14, Riley took to the serve and didn't yield until the set was over. The Raiders scored the final nine points of the game on Riley's watch.

"The tournament was a good learning expericne for us. We've been doing pretty well with agressive serving and digging," Riley said. "As long as we keep sticking up for each other and don't get upset when things aren't going well, we'll continue to improve."

Maddi Porter opened up the second set at the line as well. She remained until the Raiders forged a 5-0 lead. Lecher helped get the ball rolling with a well directed two-handed push shot to open court. The third point came after Sarah Mahr passed to her setter sister Emily who fed Abbi Porter for the kill. Maddi Porter aced her next two serves for the 5-0 lead.

Rowley took to the line next and she kept the Minutemaids off balance for four more points and a 10-1 lead. Her run included an ace as well. When the lead reached 14-3, Lexington called a timeout but Abbi Porter didn't slow down on her service run. She took the serve at 12-3 and was still there when the score reached 18-3.

Back at the line for her second go, Rowley served out the deciding set with a four-point streak and a 25-10 win.

The Raiders receive a break in their busy travel schedule as they get to spend a week in the Cabela's Gym fine tuning their game. Another long journey awaits, however, as Sidney will head to the Chadron Tournament on Saturday. The team finally gets to taste home cooking on Tues. Oct. 15, when Chadon travels here.


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