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Veterans spark Lady Raiders

The Colonie girls volleyball team finished second in last year's Section II, Class AA tournament. This time, the Lady Raiders are hoping to seal the deal.

Colonie is off to a 5-2 start in the Suburban Council and recently won its annual tournament. The Lady Raiders' losses were against two of the top teams in the league, Ballston Spa and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

What we're looking for is to have strong, consistent play, said Colonie coach Thomasa Nielsen. "Obviously, having a strong sense of team is critical. Hopefully, the more we play, the stronger we get."

The Lady Raiders have a veteran team, though they will be shorthanded for the next several weeks while one of their leading players, Angela Johanning, recovers from a knee injury. Tri-captains Brittany Conroy, Lindsay Frazer and Lindsey Branche have been taking up the slack with their strong play up front and their serving ability. In Monday's three game sweep against Saratoga, Conroy, Frazer and Branche combined for 19 kills and eight aces.

"They're pretty consistently in our top three in terms of aces and kills," Nielsen said of her tri-captains.

Colonie has also been getting contributions from Brianna Welch and Kelly Tiche during its recent stretch of wins, which also include victories over Schenectady and Averill Park. Nicole DiGiuseppe, Ali Olsiewski, Alaina Ranalli and Elizabeth Cardella round out this year's squad.

The Lady Raiders have a busy schedule ahead of them. After traveling to Guilderland Tuesday, they host Shenendehowa Thursday and then play in the Tartan Invitational Friday at Scotia-Glenville.

"Tournaments are places where you want to bring your team. It helps you make jumps (in playing ability)," said Nielsen.""

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