By Dana Finkler
Collegiate Staff Writer
The GRCC women’s volleyball team is off to a great start to the 2011 season. They are currently ranked #5 in the NJCAA national rankings, and hold a 12-3 record. Head coach Chip Will, entering his fifth season as the Raiders coach is impressed with the fast start to the season.
“You can’t train or teach the mentality to win five games against great competition,” said Head Coach Chip Will. “When we feel pressure, we continue to stay aggressive and execute. It’s a great thing to build off for the rest of the season.”
“We are a very athletic team this year both offensively and defensively. It hasn’t been one player stepping it up, it has been a collective effort,” Will said.
The Raiders hosted Kellogg CC at the Gordon Hunsberg Arena on September 26, 2011 where they dominated the entire match winning in three straight sets.
Off to a quick start, the Raiders won the first set in 15 minutes, 25-12 after playing exceptional team defense.
But Kellogg quickly picked up the intensity in the second match, making the Raiders play hard to earn their points.
Kellogg CC head coach Keith Julien was upset with a call halfway through the second set in a close match. He was issued a yellow card and shortly after was issued a red card and ejected from the match.
After a back and forth set, the Raiders took charge to win the set 25-21.
During the third set the Raiders fought hard to stay ahead and were led by freshman setter Kaitlyn Wolters and freshman outside hitter Kelsey Darling.
The Raiders would go on to win the third set 28-18 to pick up their 12th win of the season.
“Good team win. Everyone came in and contributed.” Will said. “We have a big home stretch of matches this week. This allows me to play a lot of the girls, which gives them experience and helps keep everyone fresh.”
Early this season, the Raiders defeated #1 ranked Johnson County CC, #6 ranked Oakland CC, and won the Raider Invitational.
In the match against Johnson County CC, the raiders lost the first set 19-25, but rallied to win the next two sets 26-24 and 25-21. Johnson County CC fought back to win the next set 20-25. But the raiders refused to lose and dominated the last set winning 15-8.
After a 5-0 start to the season, the raiders went up against Parkland where they suffered their first loss losing 3 sets to 1, 22 – 25, 27 – 25, 19 – 25, 17 – 25.
“This year’s team is very athletic and I feel if we continue to ride this momentum we will do great things this year,” said sophomore outside hitter Annette DeMartino.
“I’m really impressed with the competition at the community college level, I didn’t really expect this,” said freshman middle backer Molly Maynard. “We’re off to a great start and if we keep pushing ourselves, I think we’ll do really well”.
The Raiders have five straight home matches from September 29- October 2. The home games this week include Thursday’s match against Jackson CC at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday 12 p.m. against McHenry CC at Gordon Hunsburger Arena.