The Auburn Riverside Ravens put out the Kentlake undefeated-in-league fire in straight sets on Oct. 5 to remain as the lone unbeaten volleyball team in the NPSL 3A or 4A.
“We’ve come to the realization that every team is going to play their best game when they play us. That’s something we have to be ready for,” said Assistant Head Coach Stazi Edmond.
Against the Falcons, the Ravens came in knowing that it was going to be a challenge. But if you look at the final score of the three sets, it looks like a normal Auburn Riverside volleyball match.
“The team played really good. We have a lot of high energy. I think we were all excited because it was undefeated against undefeated. So, we were excited to win,” said Bryanna Dodson.
It is now six wins in a row for Riverside — they haven’t lost a set since Sept. 13.
“The expectations coming in was to play clean volleyball and we definitely met that expectation,” said Head Coach Mike Tienda.
In set one, Auburn Riverside led from the beginning all the way to the final point. The Ravens were able to take advantage of mistakes made by the Falcons. Their largest lead was 23-7 in the first set, and that really set the tone for the entirety of the match as the first set closed, 25-10.
The students and fans brought it once more to the Riverside gym, a building where the Ravens are 4-1 this season.
“I mean to just hear all the cheering and energy, it doesn’t feel like pressure. It just amps you up,” said Dodson.
Set two was the first and only time the Kentlake Falcons led in this one. They got out to a 2-0 lead, and eventually 4-1. But that was the only lead they would enjoy because the Ravens went on to tie it at 4-4 and never looked back. Kentlake tried to keep it close and got to within four midway through, 13-9, but Riverside flexed its muscles and sprinted to a 25-16 win.
The third set was more of the same, with Riverside jumping out to a huge 8-1 lead out of the first nine points, even leading by as much as 24-12 late in the third. The Falcons managed to get one more point before losing 25-13.
In the second set, Gabby Loewy was sidelined with a knee injury and wouldn’t return for the third set. But outside of the ice pack on her knee, you couldn’t tell that there was a missing player in the rotation. Auburn Riverside just kept on moving.
“It an ode to this team this year. We’ve been here a long time; these girls really focus… They know what’s expected,” said Coach Edmond.
Auburn Riverside is just in a league of its own, outside of their first match and a clunker against Kennedy Catholic. They are on the hunt for their 10th league title in a row, and with six games remaining, they are sitting ready for a decade of dominance.
“We’ve won league for the last nine years. It’s always a goal for the girls to keep that. At this point it feels like tradition,” said Tienda.
Being undefeated means that teams are going to try and take you down and be the team to give you the first loss, and the Ravens want to be in this spot.
“It’s exciting, it’s fun. I think it puts a target on our back a little bit, but I think we like it. We like the energy and excitement,” Dodson said.
With six games to go, the postseason is getting closer. For a team that had made state every year of Dodson’s career and then some, the Ravens are prepared for the task at hand.
“We have a lot of work to do. But as the season goes on we’re getting a lot better and were focusing a lot more,” she said.