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Volleyball: Raiders rally to win three matches at Aerie invite

Rita Girgen is one happy coach these days. Her Hastings Raiders volleyball team just came off a great weekend of play, and she's left feeling encouraged about how the rest of the 2009 season looks.

So, what is she happy about?

Hastings traveled to Apple Valley for the Aerie Invitational Friday and Saturday. The Raiders lost their opening round match to Apple Valley, the No. 9-ranked team in Class AAA, 20-25 and 14-25.

The Raiders then went on to win three close matches against three good teams.

"It was awesome," Girgen said. "We held our own against Apple Valley. I wasn't disappointed in the way we played at all. I was very excited about how they handled themselves."

The final three matches came against Edina, St. Francis and Byron.

Hastings won the Edina match in two straight games, then rallied to beat St. Francis and Byron after losing the first game to each team.

"There were times we were down," Girgen said. "To the girls' credit, they never gave up.

"We have finally learned how to get out of being down. Our goal now is that we're trying to get on top and stay there, without having to battle back. We battled back a number of times over the weekend, and that's good. That says a lot about the girls and their willingness to work hard. They, literally, did not give up."

The three straight wins improved Hastings' record to 4-4 at the time. Getting to the .500 mark was a big accomplishment, especially considering some of the teams Hastings has faced this year. Girgen said each of the losses on the record have been to teams that are ranked in the top 20 or are expected to have breakout seasons.

"I feel really confident in where the girls are at right now," she said. "We think this season is going to be very successful."

Apple Valley

Hastings finished with a 3-1 record at the Aerie Challenge in Apple Valley.

The Raiders opened the tournament with a loss to Apple Valley, the No. 9-ranked team in Class AAA, 20-25, 14-25.

The Raiders then beat Edina, 25-13, 25-23.

Hastings lost the first game to St. Francis, 19-25, before coming back to win the next two, 25-9 and 15-13.

In the fourth and final match, the Raiders again rallied from a slow start. Hastings lost the first game to Byron, 22-25, and then won 25-23 and 15-13.

At the tournament, Elly Braaten had 33 kills. Marissa Holmes had 14 and Lizzy Keena had 13.

Braaten led Hastings in digs with 32. Lisa Kranz had 32, and Devon Santelman had 26.

Keena and Braaten each had two solo blocks and four block assists.

Santelman led Hastings in serve-receive average of 2.16. Katie Nelson was at 1.967.

Kranz had five service aces and Holmes had five.

Holmes led the team in service points with 22. Biancca DuFour had 19, Kranz had 17 and Santelman had 16.

Kranz had 64 set assists. 

Vs Stillwater

Hastings played Stillwater Monday night and lost to the No. 7-ranked Ponies, 18-25, 16-25, 22-25.

"We're playing good volleyball," Girgen said. "We have a couple rotations we're getting stuck in. As soon as we figure out how to execute and get out of those games, we're going to be just fine. We're putting up really, really good numbers against really good teams. I definitely don't have any complaints."

Braaten had nine kills and Holmes had six to lead Hastings.

Santelman had 10 digs and Braaten had nine.

Keena had three block assists, and Braaten and Amy Becker each had two.

Santelman had a serve-receive average of 2.0.

She and Kranz each had one service ace.

Kranz had five service points to lead Hastings. She also had 22 set assists.