RAYMOND – The Raymond Central volleyball team caught a top opponent on the wrong night and found itself on the wrong end of a sweep in its lone game of the week losing to Mead 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-14).
The Mustangs traveled to Mead on Tuesday, Oct. 22, to face the Raiders in what would be the last regular season tune-up for both squads before subdistricts.
The Raiders were still stinging from their first loss of the season five days earlier in the ECNC Tournament. Mead had started the season 20-0 before the five-set loss to Malcolm, missing out on its conference championship.
In the first game, Raymond Central Head Coach Andrea Rockemann said the Mustangs struggled with the same things they have struggled with all year. Inconsistency, a lack of confidence and unforced errors killed the Mustangs to start the match.
Rockemann said the first set “strained our confidence” but that the girls competed hard.
Rockemann said one of her goals for the team heading into postseason play was to focus on the mental game.
The Mustangs responded in the second game, pushing the Raiders hard but coming up short.
In the third game, the Raiders found their rhythm again and finished off the Mustangs in three sets.
Sophomore Emaree Harris didn’t record a kill but made a statement at the net.
Harris finished with four total blocks, three solo stuffs and two assisted, to lead all players for the match.
Rockemann said Harris’ development has come a long way in her sophomore season.
“Emaree has been night and day. She started really raw and played reserves for us last year but she’s worked really hard in the offseason,” Rockemann said. “Since the (Oct. 5) Crete game, she’s really been solidifying her blocking and gaining confidence.”
In attack, the Mustangs were led by junior Grace Mueller who finished with nine kills.
With the loss the Mustangs will head into postseason play with a 7-19 record.
In subdistricts, the Mustangs are paired with No. 4 seeded Lincoln Christian. The winner of that match will get the unenviable task of facing perennial power and No. 1 seeded Lincoln Lutheran in the next round.
Rockemann said the team still has a pep in their collective step despite the long season and she hopes the team goes into the tournament loose, with nothing to lose.