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Junior outside hitter Claire Whitman recorded 177 kills for the Raptors last season. (Bulletin file photo)

2013 Fall Sports Preview: Experience plentiful for East Ridge volleyball team

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2013 Fall Sports Preview: Experience plentiful for East Ridge volleyball team
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The Raptors will look to build on a strong end to the 2012 season as they rev up for 2013 with a deeper, more experienced team.

Buoyed by just two seniors, East Ridge finished the 2012 regular season second in the 10-team Suburban East Conference before making it to the semifinals of the Section 4AAA tournament, where the Raptors fell to North St. Paul.

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Second-year coach Erin Nickleby said she’s encouraged by the number of returning players — including junior outside hitter Claire Whitman, who last season recorded 177 kills — and defensive depth. Nickleby lauded the team’s “great cohesion” and set her sights high for 2013, but admitted that Cretin-Derham Hall and Roseville will present challenges in conference and section play.

Returning starters for the Raptors include Maddie Christenson, a outside hitter who Nickleby said will be counted on for leadership. The 5-foot-10-inch senior compiled 25 aces and 192 digs in the 2012 campaign.

Other returning players include junior mid-hitter Emily Hrastich, junior setter Savanna Lipps, senior setter Makayla Sauro, senior mid-hitter Jamie Swanson and senior setter Sydney Kleinhuizen.

Hrastich recorded 23 kills last season, while Lipps served 24 aces and amassed 304 digs in 2012. Swanson, who stands 6 feet tall, logged 106 kills last season.

Nickleby said rising stars could include Allison Barber, a freshman setter with “great hands and great potential” and eighth-grader Ella Ratzloff, a setter who the coach said “plays aggressive and reads well.”

—Mike Longaecker

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Mike Longaecker
Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
(715) 426-1072
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