REDMOND — Leading 2-1 in sets, with a fifth set looking as though it was all too certain, Randi Viggiano called a timeout trailing 23-21 in the fourth set, hoping to refocus her team to close out a Redmond High team that would not go down easy.
“We had to take a couple of timeouts just to regain our composure and remember to play our game,” said Viggiano, the Ridgeview volleyball coach. “We just had to refocus and get back to what our task was; that is being aggressive and never letting up. We don’t play not to lose, we play to win.”
The Ravens did just that, winning five of the next six points to take the fourth set and escape the Redmond High gym with a 3-1 victory (25-19, 16-25, 25-22, 26-24) over their intratown rival Sept. 21.
The win kept the Ravens’ 18-win streak over the Panthers alive. Ridgeview has yet to lose on the volleyball court to Redmond since Ridgeview opened in 2012.
Although, in the first matchup between the rivals this year, each team entered in unfamiliar spots. Redmond is off to its best start in recent years and climbed into the top-10 rankings of last week’s OSAA Class 5A coaches poll at No. 6. While Ridgeview, the 5A state champion in 2019, fell out of the top 10 after being ranked third in the preseason polls.
Rankings aside, the game still needed to be played. And on the court, in front of a hostile crowd fueled by dueling student sections, it felt at times as though the continuation of the streak was in doubt and there would be a new top dog in Redmond volleyball.
“When we were neck to neck the whole set I didn’t know how it was going to go,” said Ridgeview sophomore Ellie Owens. “But luckily we pulled through. We regrouped ourselves, took a deep breath and said that we got this. We just had to go out and play our game.”
While the end result was a familiar one, it was hardly a familiar match between the Ravens and the Panthers. There has been a wide gap in on-court success between the two volleyball programs.
“It makes for an exciting night when you don’t know who is going to take it,” said second-year Redmond coach Katie Karcher. “We just restarted as a program. I set the bar high. I put in rules and expectations and the kids bought into it, which is a really big deal.”
One streak did end for Redmond on Sept. 21 against Ridgeview, and it came in the second set when the Panthers won rather convincingly, 25-16. The last time the Panthers won a single set against the Ravens was back in October 2015 — a total of 31 sets.
Perhaps the set Karcher is most proud of was the third. It started off similarly to sets of past years between the two teams. Ridgeview jumped out to a comfortable 16-8 lead, but the Panthers continued to chip away and before long the lead had been cut to 23-21.
While the Ravens ultimately won two of the next three points, it was a set that revealed the type of team Redmond is becoming.
“I told them that we have to be mentally strong,” Karcher said.
“And that you can’t worry about who is on the other side of the court. They turned it on and went on a big run.”
The rival schools will meet for a second time at Ridgeview on Oct. 12.