Volleyball: Strong play leads to East Ridge sweep of Woodbury

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Playing Woodbury always seems to bring out the best in East Ridge.

The Raptors filed another chapter in their recent dominance of the cross-town volleyball series, sweeping the visiting Royals 25-12, 25-12 and 25-21 in three games Tuesday.

It was the sixth straight win in the series for the Raptors and the fifth consecutive three-game sweep of Woodbury. The Royals haven’t beaten the Raptors in volleyball since taking a 3-2 decision during the 2011 regular season.

It wasn’t that the Royals did anything poorly Tuesday; it was more a case of the Raptors playing very, very well. They hit well, passed well, defended and dug out numerous hard shots.

Playing before a large and boisterous crowd of supporters from both teams, the Raptors came out hitting hard and never really took their feet off the gas.

Allie Barber, who led East Ridge with 17 kills, and Leah Witzel had 29 assists, keyed the Raptors offensive attack.

East Ridge rolled up commanding leads in the first two games, winning both easily.

The third game was much tighter. The two teams battled to ties at 10-all and 12-all before the Raptors went on a short run to grab an 18-14 lead. Woodbury hung tough the rest of the game, closing to 23-20 and 24-21 before eventually falling.

“It’s always fun to play them, the girls get really excited and the fans bring a lot of energy so it’s always fun to play that rivalry game,” said East Ridge coach Madeline Amon.

East Ridge improved its season record to 7-4 overall.

Woodbury dropped to 3-6. The Royals have lost five straight since a sweep of Minneapolis South back on Sept. 8.

“Our setters did a really good job of distributing the ball, both Leah (Witzel) and Stephanie (Barber) did a good job,” said Amon. “We’re working on different things that we’ve been doing in practice.”

East Ridge has a tough assignment Thursday, playing at No. 11 Roseville in what will be a challenging closing schedule. The Raptors have already played top-ranked Eagan this season and have remaining non-conference games against No. 15 Rosemount and No. 7 Lakeville North, along with the top teams in the conference.

Woodbury hosts White Bear Lake (3-9) Thursday.