REDMOND — Heidi Wood can tell that her Ridgeview volleyball team has made big strides this season by the way other teams walk into the Ravens’ gym.
“We’re a team that’s been one of the bottom teams,” Wood said, “but now teams are coming in here and having to take us seriously. They’re saying when we’re playing Ridgeview, we’ve gotta bring our ‘A’ game.”
Such was the case Thursday night, when reigning Class 5A state champion Bend High came calling. And the No. 5-ranked Ravens gave the No. 3 Lava Bears all they could handle before Bend escaped with a 26-28, 19-25, 25-19, 25-14, 15-10 Intermountain Conference victory.
“We knew we had to battle,” said Bend coach Kristin Cooper. And when her team was down two games to none on the floor of an opponent hungry to prove itself against one of the IMC’s elite? “We just kept fighting. We have a saying: ‘The bear does not quit. The bear does not die.’”
But the bear is not immune to illness — which is what sidelined Bend starting middle blocker Brooklynn Anderson for Thursday’s match.
“It took us a little time to adjust (to Anderson’s absence),” said Cooper. “But we have some great senior leaders, and they just have a refuse-to-lose attitude.”
Those seniors played an important role in the turnaround. One of them, Kaci Cox, had 24 kills and 20 digs. Another, Cambree Scott, had 14 kills, four blocks and two aces. Yet another senior, Olivia Armstrong, had a team-high 24 digs.
The squad’s lone freshman, Megan Bushnell, led Bend in assists with 45 and in aces with seven.
The win kept the Lava Bears (6-1 IMC) tied with Summit for the conference lead going into the final week of the regular season. Ridgeview (3-3) remained solidly in third place and despite Thursday’s loss is still bound for the postseason.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” said Wood, the Ravens’ first-year coach. “But we have to learn to finish a game. We have to work on not giving up bad points, and when we get a run on us, we have to pick up and come back.”
Ridgeview was led by Rylee Troutman, who had 22 kills to go with 15 digs and 21-for-22 serving that included four aces. The Ravens also got solid serving from Josye Miller (21-for-23 and four aces) to go with her 23 digs, 11 kills and three blocks. Josilyn Remick had 21 assists along with 22 digs and four blocks.
“How far these girls have come this season is pretty awesome,” Wood reflected. “To take Bend five games like we did tonight shows how far we’ve come.”