2012 Fall Preview: New system, new hope for East Ridge volleyball teamA new head coach at East Ridge hopes a core of promising newcomers mixed with senior leadership will give the Raptors volleyball team another state berth.
By: Justin Kruse, South Washington County Bulletin
A new head coach at East Ridge hopes a core of promising newcomers mixed with senior leadership will give the Raptors volleyball team another state berth.
This fall, the East Ridge volleyball team is seeking its second trip to the state tournament in three years, but it will do it with yet another new head coach – East Ridge’s third head coach in the past four seasons.
The Raptors, led by first-year coach Erin Nickleby, begin their season Thursday, Aug. 30, at Apple Valley’s Eastview High School.
The Raptors season ended in disappointment last year in the Section 4AAA quarterfinals against top-seeded Hill-Murray, the same team East Ridge beat in 2010 to reach the state tournament. They went on to finish in fifth place in the state that year.
Coming off a 13-18 record from a year ago, the Raptors are hoping a mix of seasoned veterans and young, athletic talent will be able to replace 2012 graduates Brandi Knupp, Maggie Remke and Cayla Kissner – players who were key players in the Raptors’ state run in 2010 and senior leaders last year.
Ready to help fill those shoes are senior captains Margaret Eggert and Tess Kelzenberg.
“Eggert is an outside hitter with a lot of power,” Nickleby said. “She returns with great volleyball experience.”
Joining their captains are promising newcomers Maddie Christenson, Sydney Kleinhuizen and Savanna Lipps.
“These players bring in promising potential to the program,” Nickleby said.
Nickleby, who played volleyball at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls from 2000-2003, has six years of coaching high school volleyball experience. She was an assistant for Park High School for two years and an assistant for four years at Eastview.
She said she knows playing as a team and making sure her players are mentally prepared are the most important keys to the Raptors’ success this year.
“The girls have the physical and athletic ability,” she said. “It’s the mental aspect of the game and staying mentally focused that will help us win.”
Key matchups facing the Raptors this season are home against Mounds View on Sept. 13 and at Cretin-Durham Hall on Sept. 18.