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Volleyball: Raptors win five-set battle vs. Rosemount

Kate Reimann of the Raptors pushes a shot over from the corner against Rosemount. (Bulletin photo by John Molene)1 / 3
Laine Hoeffel (6) and Janie Grindland (10) go up to try a block a Rosemount shot Wednesday, (Bulletin photo by John Molene)2 / 3
East Ridge senior outside hitter Allie Barber drives a ball hard against the visiting Rosemount Irish Wednesday. (Bulletin photo by John Molene)3 / 3

East Ridge continued its march through a rugged schedule and outfought a talented Rosemount volleyball team in a thrilling five-set home win Wednesday.

The Raptors lost the first and fourth sets, but eventually prevailed 14-25, 25-23, 25-23, 21-25 and 15-9 against the visiting Irish.

East Ridge improved to 9-5 on the season. Rosemount dropped to 11-7.

Playing some of the best volleyball teams in the state this fall is all part of the plan for the Raptors, said coach Madeline Amon.

“I think this is kind of putting us up there,” said Amon. “So we’ve been playing really good teams all season -- Rosemount being one of them – and this win kind of helps us get over that little hump that we’ve been trying to reach to this entire season.”

The Raptors scheduled Blaine (10-6), No. 1 Eagan (16-0), No. 10 Lakeville North (10-4), Edina (7-4) and Rosemount in non-conference play, and met Northfield (10-2) and Lakeville North in the always strong Marshall tournament. That’s in addition to matches against Suburban East Conference powers Stillwater (7-3) and eighth-ranked Roseville.

The goal is to get the Raptors battle tested going into the postseason.

“That’s the plan,” said Amon. “That’s the whole reason I did it.”

“It’s showing us that we can step up and when we play our game we can definitely play at the same level as these teams,” said East Ridge junior middle hitter Janie Grindland. “Also, having a good mental game is going to help us a lot.”

Players and Amon thought the Raptors played well together as a team Wednesday.

“I think that as a team we kind of played united,” Amon said. “I think that we’re focusing a lot of our energy to being together as a team. Which is great. And I’ve had really awesome senior leadership, especially this week. It’s really great to see the seniors getting involved and stepping up and being that leader.”

It was one of their best wins the season, some of the Raptors felt.

“I feel like it is because we really came together as a team,” Grindland said. “They had us in the first set, but we really took the time to talk to each other and calm each other down and play our game.”

Rosemount came into Wednesday’s match with several big wins under their belts already this season, including a win over Bethlehem Academy, ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, and a sweep of Roseville.

The Irish dominated the first match, winning 25-14. From there on out, the Raptors had an edge. Not a big edge, but an edge nevertheless. East Ridge scored tough, tight wins in the second and third sets, winning 25-23 both times.

“After the first game we cleaned up our unforced errors,” Leah Witzel said. “We gave them most of their points the first game and in the second game we like cleaned up, worked together and started executing  the ball a lot better. And we trusted each other a lot more.

“Our defense and our serve receive really stepped up that game (the second), Witzel added.

Rosemount took the fourth to stay alive, winning 25-21.

East Ridge took leads of 5-2 and 11-6 in the fifth set and held that advantage to the end for the win.

Allie Barber had 17 digs and 15 kills to lead the Raptors. Kate Reimann and Laine Hoeffel had 10 kills each. Ella Ratzloff had 26 digs.

The Raptors play at Suburban East Conference-leading Stillwater (6-3, 2-0) on Thursday.