East Ridge junior middle blocker Alexa Dietz directed a shot between Champlin Park defenders Sara Moberg (left) and Kathryn Adler. Dietz had nine kills and three blocks in the Raptors' four-set victory. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Sophomore setter Alexis Opland said it was as simple as a flip of the switch.
One minute, she and her East Ridge teammates were struggling and appeared headed toward a short night in a match that had the makings of a dispirited loss to Champlin Park. The next, the Raptors were electrified and cruised to a 12-25, 25-21, 25-14, 26-24 home-court victory over the Rebels.
Addison Mattes, a 6-3 sophomore middle blocker, makes a play at the net. Mattes led the Raptors with five blocks against Champlin Park. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Down one set and trailing 20-13 in the second set, East Ridge finally found its spark. And the Raptors found it in a big way, winning 33 of the next 46 points and rallying to defeat Champlin Park 12-25, 25-21, 25-14, 26-24 on Tuesday night.
Sophomore setter Alexis Opland, who inherited the job when 2021 starter Macey Spolidoro decided to sit out the 2022 season to participate in other extracurricular activities, had 42 assists for the Raptors, who are ranked No. 2 in the Class 4A coaches’ preseason poll. Defensive specialist Ellenor Crimmins and outside hitter Mikayla McDougall kept the ball in play and helped mitigate Champlin Park's strong hitting from the posts. Crimmins had 23 digs and McDougall had 14 while also leading the Raptors with 19 kills.
East Ridge, a state tournament participant last season from the Suburban East Conference, is now 2-0 in nonconference play and the Raptors players and coaches are feeling pretty good about having to replace a heavy load of graduated talent.
Defending Northwest Suburban Conference champion Champlin Park, which rallied from an 0-2 deficit last week to beat No. 4-4A Lakeville North in five sets, is 1-1 in nonconference play. The Rebels are ranked third in the Class 4A preseason rankings.
Sophomore outside hitter Carly Gilk went high for the kill shot over Alexa Dietz as Champlin Park rolled to a 25-12 first-set victory. East Ridge rallied to win the game in four sets. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine