East Ridge spikers headed to state tourneyRaptors outlast Pioneers to claim first-ever section championship.
By: Patrick Johnson, Woodbury Bulletin
The third-seeded East Ridge volleyball team punched a ticket to the state tournament with an emotional 3-2 win over Hill-Murray in a tense Section 4AAA final on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Hastings High School.
Down 2-1 after losing the third game 25-15, East Ridge (20-7) outscored fifth-seeded Hill-Murray 40-27 down the stretch to win the match and qualify for its fist-ever state tournament.
In the match, East Ridge won the first game, but dropped the next two games to fall behind 2-1 to Hill-Murray (25-2), who were the Classic Suburban Conference champion and who knocked off top-seeded and defending section champion Stillwater 3-0 in the semifinals.
In the fourth game, however, East Ridge stormed out to a 7-3 lead. But, Hill Murray cut the deficit to 10-8, prompting Raptors’ first-year head coach Lindsay Ashburn to call a time out. After that, the East Ridge went on a 15-7 run to tie the match 2-2 and force a fifth game.
Hill-Murray led the majority of the fifth and deciding game, with its biggest lead 9-6. However, East Ridge tied the match 10-10 with a three-point run, then outscored the Pioneers 5-2 the rest of the way — allowing the celebration to begin.
Senior outside hitter Felicia Ulrich was unstoppable at times for the Raptors — especially in the fifth game — totaling 25 kills, 20 digs and three blocks. Fellow senior outside hitter Dale Hoeffel added 14 digs and 10 kills, while senior setter Kristen Jorgensen racked up 39 assists, six digs and three aces. Additionally, senior defensive stopper Cassie Yurick had 20 digs and junior libero Brandi Knupp had 16 digs and three aces.
East Ridge is now 10-3 in its last 13 matches, including best-of-three wins over a pair of top-10 Class AAA teams — Lakeville South and Shakopee.
Ashburn is now 5-for-5 in her section final appearances, as she brought St. Cloud Cathedral to the Class AA state tournament in each of her four seasons with the team and has now led East Ridge to state in her first year with the Raptors.
The 2010 state tournament begins on Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, with Class AAA play beginning at 9 a.m. At state, the top four teams will be seeded, with the remaining four teams being paired by a random draw.