The East Ridge Raptors have been tracking big game all season long.
Wednesday night they bagged a trophy kill.
The Raptors knocked off ninth-ranked Lakeville North in a non-conference volleyball contest and did it in impressive fashion, winning 23-25, 25-22, 25-13 and 25-22.
It was, perhaps, the biggest win of the season for the Raptors, who have challenged a host of top teams this season. East Ridge has played top-ranked Eagan, Edina, No. 15 Northfield and Suburban East Conference powers Stillwater and No. 10 Roseville. It was a challenging schedule designed to make a better team out of the Raptors, and that rugged competition is starting to pay big dividends.
“I think they’re starting to click,” said East Ridge head coach Madeline Amon. “They’re just like building on each game that we’ve played. Like we’ve had some tough losses against really good teams, and we’re learning from those errors and those losses. It’s really helping us in the long run. I think this is the first time that we’ve really finished a game strong.”
East Ridge looked like the better team almost from start to finish Wednesday. The Raptors got their usual share of big hits along the front line from standouts Allie Barber, Kate Reimann and others. But they also served well, serve-received well, blocked well and played standout defense.
“Along with defense, our blocks really picked it up, so it made it easier for our defense to play well,” said Amon. “And we’ve been working on that in practice. It’s really getting there and starting to click, and it’s great to see.”
The teams split a pair of tight decisions in games one and two. But East Ridge dominated game three, and that seemed to carry over into the decisive game four. There were ties at 19, 20, 21 and 22 before the Raptors surged at the end. Reimann supplied a huge kill for a 24-22 lead, and the Raptors closed it out one point later.
“I think it’s one of the best wins that we’ve had so far,” said Reimann. “We played really well as a team and we just kept going after it and we didn’t let them beat us up.
“Our defense was unbelievable,” Reimann added. “Allie Barber and Livi (Bengtson) and Ella (Ratzloff) were everywhere, and they were getting every single ball up. We kept a really consistent offense, which was a big role in how we played.”
“The goal tonight was just to get everything up because we knew me, Ella and Allie, we all had each other’s back,” said Bengtson. “So if a ball was up, we counted on each other being there. It was just like, see the ball, get the ball.”
Lakeville North fell to 13-7 on the season.
The Raptors (10-6, 2-2) return to Suburban East Conference play at White Bear Lake (3-13, 0-3) Thursday, Oct. 6. East Ridge remains two games back of league-leading Cretin-Derham Hall in the league standings, a team the Raptors will host in the conference finale Oct. 18.