Everything was clicking for the ninth-ranked East Ridge Raptors who swept third-seeded Rosemount Wednesday, Nov. 1, to advance to the Class AAA, Section 3 volleyball finals.
The Raptors moved to within a game of the state volleyball tournament with a three-set victory, winning 25-14, 25-20, 25-17 in a section semifinal held at Prior Lake High School.
The challenge for the Raptors to get to state will be steeper. Blocking the way is top-ranked Eagan. The Wildcats (27-1) easily defeated Eastview 25-9, 25-17, 25-14, to advance in the other semifinal.
Eagan and East Ridge will play for the 3AAA section title and a trip to the state tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Prior Lake High School.
Eagan has had few close calls this season. East Ridge and Rosemount both took the Wildcats to five games in September. Since then, however, the Wildcats have been steamrolling opponents. Eagan is on a 19-game winning streak and hasn't lost so much as a single set since Sept. 14 when the Wildcats defeated the Irish in five.
Second-seeded East Ridge advanced with a 22-9 record.
Third-seeded Rosemount's season ended at 19-10.
"I feel we kept the ball in play longer than the other team," said East Ridge senior libero Ella Ratzloff. "We kept getting on big runs and every time they got on a run we'd stop them right away."
The Raptors defeated Rosemount 3-1 in the regular season but this match featured an East Ridge defense which never let the Irish offense get on track.
"We did a really good job of executing the ball and Alaina Erickson did a really good job of distributing the ball along the net,' said East Ridge junior outside hitter Kate Reimann.
Reimann was stumped when asked if the East Ridge offense or defense was better Wednesday.
"I think they were both equal to be completely honest," Reimann said. "We did an amazing job in both areas."
The Irish offense, on the other hand, simply never got going; said Rosemount head coach Smokey Vitek.
"They (the Raptors) played well," said Vitek. "I don't think it was too much of what they did, I think it was more what we did. Our back row and our defense was solid. Our offense just never clicked in. We just were off.
"We started to do what we practiced probably late in set two, but we didn't execute on offense," Vitek added. "And when you play a team as good as East Ridge, you cannot not execute."
East Ridge head coach Steve Anderson, on the other hand, said he was pleased with how the Raptors played both offensively and on defense. East Ridge held narrow but significant leads in sets one and two, then battled back from behind to catch and pass the Irish in game three.
"We had a little slow start in that third set but we ended on a 17-to-5 run so they kind of cleaned it up and finished strong which is good going into Saturday," said Anderson. "They played hard. It was a game that they wanted. They were driven to get it done tonight. A lot of these girls haven't been to a section final before. It was an accomplishment for them and we want to keep getting those."