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Raiders edge Trojans in five

WORTHINGTON -- After losing the first two games, the Worthington Trojan volleyball team fought back to win the next two before falling in the fifth set Friday night to the Fulda Raiders.

The Raiders (1-0), won the first two games, 25-17 and 25-23, before Worthington (0-1) rallied for a 25-16 victory in game three and a 25-22 victory in game four. Fulda finished the match with a 15-13 victory in game five.

"We kind of have that habit where we start out slow and we come back," Worthington head coach Jen Clark said. "We couldn't quite keep it together tonight."

But for Worthington, Clark said it was disappointing to start the season with a loss.

"You don't like to begin that way," Clark said. "But we saw some really good things at times and that's what we're going to focus on and go on from here."

After losing the first game and falling behind 20-15 in the second, the Trojans rallied for eight straight points to lead 23-20.

However, the Raiders were not going quietly. Stephanie Gunderman pounded one of her nine kills on the night to stop the Trojan rally. She then served the rest of the game as Fulda scored the last five points for the 25-23 victory.

"To come back and win game two after we were down (was key)," Fulda head coach Jessica Hogan said. "To fight back like that shows we have a lot of heart, and they played together the whole night, so that was key for us."

Worthington started off the third game with a rally, leading by as many as 11 at one point. Anneli Dudley helped put the finishing touches on the 25-16 victory as the Trojans stayed alive in the match.

The fourth game was a close game, as neither team could pull away from the other. Worthington came up with points at the right time en route to a 25-22 victory.

"It takes us a while to get going, but once we got going, we played really well, and they were fired up and really attacking the ball," Clark said. "That was what we wanted them to do, and that made the difference in those two games."

In a winner-take-all fifth game, Fulda jumped out to an early lead, but Worthington answered with key points. Fulda's Mari Holinka came up big at the end for the Raiders. Her kill late gave Fulda a 13-12 lead, and later a 14-13 lead.

Trailing 14-13 and facing match-point, the Trojans set up a block and scored what they thought was the game-tying point. However, a Worthington player was called for being in the net, giving Fulda the victory, 15-13.

"We played well together, that was the biggest thing that I was happy with tonight," Hogan said. "We made too many errors in games three and four, and then we found ourselves again in game five."

For Worthington, Clark said their hard work was a key to climbing back in the match.

"I think they did a great job tonight of really working hard and scrambling if we had to scramble," Clark said. "Our preference is not to do that, but if that's the case, we've really worked hard at picking stuff up and hitting the floor, and I think we did a really good job of that tonight."

For Fulda, communication was the key in their victory.

"Our talking and communication kind of broke down at times in those two games in the middle of the match," Hogan said. "We got that corrected in game five, so that was big for us."

Fulda's Sam Raddle had 37 set assists in the game, pushing her over 1,000 in her career. That number puts her at second in school history.

"I'm proud of Sam for her 1,000 assists, she's really worked hard and turned herself into a setter," Hogan said. "She's spent many hours in the gym and she deserves it, I'm really happy for her."

Mandy Gunderman led the way for Fulda with 12 kills, while Mari Holinka had 10. Mandy Gunderman also led the way with 20 digs, while Stephanie Gunderman had 15.

For Worthington, Holli Aggen had 14 kills, while Ally Rotert had 10. Dudley had 17 sets, while Rachel Pavelko had 30 digs from her libero position.

Worthington will play again Tuesday night at Round Lake-Brewster.

"I think there were some good things though, we have to look at what happened and what we did well and go from there," Clark said. "We have two games next week, so we'll practice on Monday and start again."

For the Raiders, they will have a break before they play again on Sept. 6 against Southwest Christian.

"We've just had general practices where we try to practice everything, but now that we've had a match, we can find some things that we really have to work on, and we have some time to do that," Hogan said.