ANAMOSA - Pulling out of the annual Clinton Prince of Peace Invitational for the first time in many years, the Anamosa volleyball program decided to instead host their own tournament Saturday, Sept. 7.

      Raider volleyball coach Caitlin McVay is sure glad they did.

      “I know in the past Anamosa had annually made a trip to Clinton on the first Saturday in September and taken part at that tournament where they had some success over the years,” McVay said. “We decided we’d like to host a tournament of our own, and maybe up the competition level a bit as well. I think we showed with the way we played at our place Saturday that we’re ready to take our game to that next level.

      “We were pretty excited to be the only team to go 4-0 on the day.”

      Anamosa claimed their Raider Invitational championship defeating Bellevue, Northeast, Galena (Ill.) and Washington (Ia.) at the round robin style event.

      “It wasn’t easy at times, but the girls rallied when they had to and made the plays when they had to,” McVay said. “All-in-all it was a fun day spent on our home court and I think we gained a little momentum as a program, too. We struggled at time in our season-opening tournament at Cascade and came back and did a nice job here at home taking care of business.”

      Anamosa (8-3, 1-0) opened with a hard-fought 23-25, 25-22, 15-11 triumph over a Bellevue team that had just faced two days earlier in the River Valley Conference 2019 season-opener.

      “It was another tight match with Bellevue, just like the first one we played them a couple of days earlier,” McVay said. “I know the girls were excited to play them again, but I was a little nervous after the way things went Thursday night at Bellevue. That was a little too close for comfort, and this one played out the very same way, but again the girls made the plays when they had to.”

      Olivia Nebergall was too tough for any Comet defender to handle slamming down 11 kills on just 18 attacks to lead the Raider offense while Maggie McQuillen added eight more. Grace Steffensmeier chipped in with six kills while Kylie Chapman (19) and Gabby Gadient (10) combined to set 29 assists. Chapman added 10 digs.

      Lauren Martensen led the Anamosa serving corps drilling 11-of-11 over the net with one ace as the team connected at a sizzling 95-percent clip with five total aces.

      The Raiders followed up the win over the Comets with another over Northeast in the second match of the day, taking a 25-18, 25-15 decision.

      “We didn’t play our best early and didn’t really keep the intensity up that we had in the Bellevue match,” McVay said. “Serina Norte had a couple of aces that seemed to get us going, and after that we were fine.”

      Norte drilled five aces at the Rebels and was 9-of-10 from the service line while Abby Fairbanks added three more aces and was also 9-of-10. Chapman led Anamosa servers going 12-of-13.

      Kalli Minger got the offense in motion setting 10 assists while Nebergall and Fairbanks powered the hitting game with five kills each as nine different Raiders recorded kills.

      The third match of the day against Galena appeared to be an Anamosa rout early on, but in the end the hosts hung on for a tough 25-11, 14-21, 15-11 victory.

      “I think we just got a little too comfortable with the ease in which we won the first game,” McVay said. “After losing the second, we had to bounce back and take them in three sets. This never should have gone that far and I hope the girls learned you can never take any team for granted. When you have a team on the ropes you put them away, and we didn’t do that against Galena. We gave them a chance to win it and they almost took it.”

      Nebergall slammed down eight kills for the Raider offense while McQuillen added six more. Kelsey Scofield chipped in with five kills.

      Serving was also an Anamosa strength as the team drilled 96-percent over the net with 12 aces. Minger was a perfect 7-for-7 with five of those aces while Fairbanks (10-of-10) and Lexi Bright (8-of-8) added three aces each to the effort.

      The Raiders looked to complete the sweep and claim the tournament championship by posting win over Washington in the final match of the day, and the hosts took care of business with an impressive 25-17, 25-16 victory.

      “This was a special match for me,” McVay said. “Washington’s coach (Lexa Mahr) and I played college volleyball together at Carl Sanburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. She was our setter, so it was fun to be able to see her again and share a few funny looks at bad calls.”

      Anamosa attacked the Demons from all over the court as nine different girls had kills, led by seven from Scofield.

      Martensen’s 12-of-12 serving game paced a 96-percent Raider effort as the team tallied five aces. Chapman also set 16 assists and was 10-of-10 at the service line.

      Anamosa opened River Valley Conference play with a wild come-from-behind 25-23, 20-25, 17-25, 27-25, 15-13 triumph at Bellevue Thursday, Sept. 5.

      “This was a crazy match from the start,” McVay said. “Every game was so close and what a way to open conference play than with a win like this on the road. This should set the tone for the conference season for us. These girls want to do what we did last year, and they are sure off to a great start.”

      With the fourth game tied at 25-25, a Fairbanks ace put the visitors up before a McQuillen kill tipped over a host of Bellevue defenders, was the game-ending point for the Raiders.

      The fifth and final set was equally as intense as once again it was Anamosa making clutch play after clutch play down the stretch.

      McQuillen’s 15 kills powered the Raider offense while Chapman set 18 assists with Gadient adding 11 more.

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