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Red River streak against Central continues

Red River hitter Alex Page (#25) and setter Ashlee Welch (#24) block a Central spike during a crosstown volleyball match Tuesday night at Grand Forks Central. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald1 / 3
Central middle blocker Sofie McGee spikes the ball past Red River's Karlie Robson (center) and Jada Steen (right) in the third set of Tuesday's crosstown rivalry matchup at Grand Forks Central. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
(From left) The Roughriders' Karlie Robson, Ashlee Welch, Alex Richards, Kaylee Lancaster and Alex Page celebrate a point in the third set of Tuesday's volleyball match against Central. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

The hitting efficiency isn't where Carolyn Olson would like to see it. But Grand Forks Red River's play at the net Tuesday was enough to extend its intracity high school volleyball dominance.

The Roughriders had a 40-28 advantage in kills, helping them to a 25-11, 23-25, 25-16, 25-15 win at Grand Forks Central.

Kaylee Lancaster had 12 kills, Karlie Robson and Alex Page added eight each and Jada Steen had seven in the balanced Red River attack. The Riders had a .112 hitting percentage.

"A good high school team would be around 20 percent,'' Olson, the Red River coach, said. "We haven't had that this year. But we found a way to put the ball on the floor tonight.

"We served aggressively and we were able to terminate.''

Lancaster had a season high for kills in a match, while Robson had a .238 hitting percentage. "That's a good percentage for a high school player,'' Olson said.

Central's attack was led by Sofie McGee's seven kills, with Bailey Jaeger and Katie Noreen getting five each. Central also gave up 20 points on hitting errors.

"That's a lot (of errors) for us,'' Central coach Katie Arthur said. "That was a huge factor. We have to work hard to get our points. We can't afford to give up that many free points.''

Red River controlled the first set after jumping to a 12-1 lead. Central broke a 23-23 tie in the second with the final two points on Red River errors.

In the third set, Central was within 17-14. But a Page kill gave Red River a sideout and Ella Fosse followed with a five-point serving run to break open a 23-17 advantage.

"That was a huge turning point,'' Arthur said. "It shifted the momentum.''

A 9-1 run in the fourth set, highlighted by two Lancaster service aces, broke open a 16-9 Red River lead.

"We've struggled giving up big runs this year,'' Olson said. "I think a lot of it has been a case of inexperience. We did better at it today.

"Every stretch like those runs builds confidence. The kids played with more confidence. They played more aggressively tonight.''

Lancaster (12 kills, 10 digs) and Ashlee Welch (22 assists, 12 digs) had double doubles for Red River, which improved to 3-7.

Central, 1-8, received a match-high 37 digs from Grace Jackson.

Central continued its struggles against Red River, a program it hasn't beaten since the 1995-96 season.

"I don't know if it's a mental thing or what,'' Arthur said. "We have to get over the mental stigma of playing Red River. We have to start going into the match expecting to win.''