What better way for Blaine's volleyball team to prepare to host its own tournament this weekend than to swoop in and turn some heads at another.
The Bengals, ranked No. 5 in the coaches poll heading into the talent-rich Eagle Invitational last weekend in Apple Valley, defeated No. 1 Lakeville North and No. 2 Bloomington Jefferson en route to winning the 33rd annual event.
Prior to those signature marks, Blaine's lone victory against any ranked opponent this season had been a five-setter over then-Class 2A, No. 8 Jordan on Sept. 1.
"We didn't know how good we were," coach Celeste Gorman said. "This was a good, tough test for us. Our girls played from a place deep in their hearts."
In the championship match, Blaine scored the final six points of the first game and the first six points of the second game to set the tone for a 25-15, 25-18 victory over the Jaguars.
"You never really feel comfortable; you have to stay the course and stick with the game plan," Gorman said. "This group stayed focused and didn't allow any big runs."
Sophomore middle hitter Lydia Dimke was strong at the net throughout the championship, and had three of her five service aces during the six-point run to open the second game. Her dump-kill over Jefferson's front line sealed the championship.
"We were definitely underdogs coming into this tournament," Dimke said. "We really made a statement for ourselves."
Blaine's home tournament begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. North Branch, Tartan, Roseville, Big Lake, Spring Lake Park, North St. Paul and Holy Angels round out the field.Blaine Hall of Fame recipients
Blaine will induct Kathy Head and Steve Reiter into the school's hall of fame during halftime of Friday's football game. An informal reception will be held before the game at 5 p.m. at Bengal Stadium.
Head directed volleyball and girls' basketball for a combined 21 years and served as an assistant softball coach for 10 years.
Reiter coached girls' basketball for 29 years, winning 377 games and seven conference titles and appearing in six state tournaments. Reiter was named section coach of the year six times and Minnesota State Girls' Basketball Coach of the Year in 2000. In 2007 he was inducted in the Minnesota Girls' Basketball Coaches' Hall of Fame.