What began as a very promising season for the Waconia volleyball team ended in tears on Oct. 30, when the Wildcats, who most fans assumed were state-bound, fell to the No. 4 seeded Shakopee Sabers in the semifinals of Section 2AAA.
In the 3-2 loss, Waconia battled hard to win sets one and four, but couldn’t rally for the victory. The Sabers went on to win the section, defeating Chaska, and finished fourth in Class AAA at the state tournament.
The Wildcats finished the season 23-6 and won the Wright County Conference with a perfect 10-0 record.
season marked the first time Waconia had defeated Bethlehem Academy and Marshall. The Wildcats defeated Bethlehem Academy in a 3-2 match on Sept. 25, and took down Marshall twice in tournament play, both in September. Both Marshall (2A) and Bethlehem Academy (1A) were the 2011 state champions in their respected classes, and defended their titles again this season.
The Wildcats had many wins throughout the season, their longest streak coming from Sept. 21 to Oct. 26, when they blew through most of the conference, Bethlehem Academy, and Buffalo in the first round of sections.
The team’s six losses during the season all came to reputable Class AAA teams including Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Chanhassen, Lakeville North, and Eastview in the regular season, before the team’s postseason loss to Shakopee.
A rather young Wildcat team will say goodbye to only three seniors in Stephanie Dressen, Caroline Jacobs, and Anna Pioske, but the hole each player will leave on the court will be tough to fill next season.
Head coach Jim Lee said the three have set the leadership standard for years to come.
“Graduating a very instrumental senior class that will be nearly impossible to replace but will always be the standard to be replicated,” he said.
Jacobs led the team in digs this season with 375. Dressen was among the top killers with 125.
Pioske, who is bound for the University of North Dakota to continue her volleyball career, now holds three school records for her efforts on the court. She holds the record for most kills in a season (490), most kills in a career (1,312), and the highest kill efficiency (.400).
Sophomore Jessica Wolf was the team’s second highest kill leader with 274 kills, while sophomore Anna Schmitt led the team with 935 assists.
Pioske, Jacobs, Wolf, and Wagener all received All-Conference honors, while Dressen and Schmitt were named All-Conference Honorable Mention. Pioske was also named an All-State athlete for the second season and also received the team’s Wildcat Award, a peer-voted award to the player who epitomizes Waconia volleyball. Wagener was named the team’s Most Improved player for her 87 blocks and 121 kills this season.
Wagener, Wolf, and Schmitt are among many of the faces to return to the team in 2013. And with this season’s success, fans can only hope the luck will continue for years to come.