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Allison Wenker, left, and Liz Keena, right, go up for a block during Thursday's game at Hastings High School.

UPDATED: Raider volleyball team closes out regular season with 3-0 win over Park

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UPDATED: Raider volleyball team closes out regular season with 3-0 win over Park
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Record-wise, it hasn't been the best of seasons for the Hastings girls volleyball team, but the Raiders are at least going into the post-season on a bit of a roll.

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Hastings swept Park of Cottage Grove Thursday night in Hastings, rolling to 25-22, 25-15 and 25-19 wins. It was the Raiders' first Suburban East Conference win of the season. Hastings is now 3-20-2 on the year.

It was senior night, and coach Rita Girgen was thrilled to watch as the upperclassmen excelled.

"Our seniors really stepped up," she said. "They knew that going into this match, that it was probably the last time they'd play a match on our home court. There was a little bit of extra fire. Our energy was higher than normal, and there's always more excitement when we are playing Cottage Grove."

As the score would indicate, the first game of the match was a close one that went back and forth. The Raiders dominated the second game, getting out to a 14-1 lead.

"The biggest thing was energy," Girgen said. "If we played with that much energy in all of our other matches, we would have an entirely different record. It would be a whole new season if we played all season long with that same fire. That's exciting for us going into sections, as long as we play the same way."

Seniors on the roster include Liz Keena, Megan Oakes, Alli Steiner, Allison Wenker and Amy Becker.

"Alli really stepped up," Girgen said. "We had her play all the way around. She's normally a defensive specialist. It was really fun to see her be in the front row with all the tall players."

"Amy is coming off a shoulder injury, and it was the first time she has served in the last couple of matches," Girgen said. "It was great to have her back and healthy. She was consistent as a server and really did a good job."

Oakes served well and played well in the front row, Girgen said.

"She just came with a lot of energy," Girgen said. "That kind of energy is contagious. She was able to help bring out the best in her teammates by virtue of what she was bringing to the court."

Keena had her best match of the season, Girgen said.

"She came out ready to go," she said.

Wenker played well in the front row, too, and had a good night serving.

"She came in and played some front row for Amy," Girgen said. "She did a good job serving, too. That was probably one of her better serving matches this season."

Hastings got contributions from every single player on varsity in the match, as Girgen was able to shuffle everyone in at some point.

"Every player got out there and played," Girgen said. "We have strength in our bench, which is really nice."

Hastings was led in kills by Biancca DuFour, who had nine. Oakes and Keena each had four.

Becker led in set assists with seven. Wenker and Kaylyn Nicklay each had five.

Nicklay and Becker each had three digs.

Oakes led in serve-receive-average with a 2.08.

DuFour had one solo block and two assists. Keena had a solo block and one assist.

Becker had six service aces and Keena had four.

Becker led in service points with 15. Keena had 10 and Steiner had seven.

Sections

The section seeding meeting is Sunday. Hastings will play its first round in the section tournament on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Hastings won't be seeded very high because of its record, but that doesn't bother Girgen.

"Regardless of our record, we are a way better team than how we were at the start of the season," she said. "It was a real positive for us to end the season the way we did. We'll come in to the section tournament as an underdog, and that's OK, as long as we play with that same fire we had against Park."

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
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