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East Ridge volleyball: Raptors adjust to high-tempo opponent in season-opening 3-1

Ella Ratzloff and the Raptors topped Blaine 3-1 in their season opener in the Side Out Classic Saturday. (Bulletin file photo)

East Ridge Volleyball

The East Ridge volleyball team needed one set to adjust to Blaine's higher-tempo offense in the season opener.

The Raptors had no trouble once they found their rhythm, however, defeating the Bengals 3-1 in the Side Out Classic Saturday at Hopkins High School.

Senior outside hitter Allie Barber had 21 kills and sophomore outside hitter Kate Reimann added 15, as East Ridge overcame a 25-17 first-set loss to win the final three sets 25-19, 25-18, 25-12.

"We got into a rhythm and started playing our game," second-year coach Madeline Amon said. "It was nice getting into that rhythm sooner rather than later."

The win came after a 2015 season in which East Ridge went 23-6, losing to Rosemount in the Class 3A, Section 3 semifinals. The Raptors graduated three seniors, including Maya Intveld, who ranked second on the team in kills. They also lost 6-foot-4 middle hitter Chloe Thorpe, who was a junior last year.

Sophomore Grace Whitman played middle hitter on Saturday and had four blocks. The team also received strong defense from junior Ella Ratzloff and strong play from setters Leah Witzel and Stephanie Barber.

"They kind of brought a lot of calm to the team and were able to run an offense and distribute the ball well," Amon said.

East Ridge begins the season ranked 12th in the Class 3A coaches' poll, second among Suburban East Conference teams behind only sixth-ranked Roseville. Amon said the team is focusing on running a quicker-tempo offense this year in an effort to keep opponents off balance.

"We have athletes, but we don't have a bunch of people that can put the ball away on a high ball," she said. "We're trying to get those sets out there before we can get blocked."

East Ridge was scheduled to play Eastview on Tuesday and Edina on Thursday.