The Prior Lake volleyball team hopes to be a contender come playoff time in Section 2AAA.
But the No. 7-ranked Lakers go off to a tough start Aug. 23 in their season opener, losing in three sets (25-20, 25-9, 25-11) at No. 5 East Ridge.
The two teams met in the season opener last year as well with the Lakers winning in five sets at home (21-25, 26-24, 11-25, 25-21, 15-7). The Raptors were ranked No. 9 in that game.
However, Prior Lake endured its first losing season last fall since 2011, finishing 14-16 overall (5-4 in the South Suburban Conference).
The Lakers expect to be much improved this year, but can they reclaim their Section 2AAA crown? The team won three straight titles from 2015 to 2017, before losing in the semifinals last year to Minnetonka.
Prior Lake is back on the court Aug. 29 at home versus Northfield in non-league play at 7 p.m. The Lakers are home to both Chaska Sept. 3 and Minnetonka Sept. 5 in battles against section foes statring at 7 pm.
Prior Lake will play in the Southwest Minnesota Challenge in Marshall Sept. 6-7.
In the loss to East Ridge, sophomore Julia Hanson led the Lakers in kills with 11, while Rachel Ring had six and Camille Libert had four. Senior Dezirae Spratt and junior Isabella Westerholm both had two.
Hanson, Libert, sophomore Courtney Hagen and junior Emmy Benson each had an ace serve. Ring, Westerholm, Libert and junior Lainey VanHecke each had a block.
The Lakers open the SSC season Sept. 10 at No. 2 Lakeville South. Prior Lake follows playing home to both No. 1 Eagan Sept. 12 and No. 8 Lakeville North Sept. 17. All three matches start at 7 p.m.
The SSC has four teams ranked in the Class 3A top 10, including the Lakers.