After what seemed like a rocky start to the season, the Waconia volleyball team began playing how head coach Jim Lee expected over the weekend at a tournament in Marshall.
“Finally started to play the style of volleyball we have been waiting to see since the start of the season,” he said. “Serving, serve receive, and team chemistry have seen significant upgrades throughout the weekend and we expect it to continue. We can finally see our team transitioning from the norming to the performing stage, a key to any team.”
The Wildcats began the week by hosting conference team Delano on Sept. 3. Losing in four sets, the Wildcats established large leads in the first and third sets, but couldn’t hold on as Delano rattled off long runs, according to Lee.
“Delano is a phenomenal team that made some great adjustments throughout the night while Waconia continually looked for the ole ‘Waconia attitude’ that just didn’t come through,” Lee said.
Delano took the first set 25-19, but Waconia took set number two 25-23. A closely matched third set went to Delano 25-22, and the Tigers strung out the ‘Cats in set four 25-6.
Senior Sam Paulson led the Wildcats with 19 digs against Delano, followed by junior Kia Pankey (9 digs) and junior Jessica Wolf (8).
Wolf had a team-high 17 kills, supported by junior Jenna Van De Velde (9) and sophomore Mikayla Williams (8). Wolf had eight blocks along with junior Madi Lage who had five. Junior Anna Schmitt had 38 assists.
Waconia kicked off the Marshall tournament on Sept. 6 with a 2-0 win over Southwestern United, winning 25-23 and 25-22. Lee said the Wildcats lacked energy and desire and were fortunate to leave the court with a win. In the match, Van De Velde had nine kills, while Williams had six kills and four blocks.
The turning point of the weekend came in the ‘Cats second match against Owatonna. Winning 25-20 and then 25-9, Lee said Waconia was down 15-6 in the first set, but went on a 44-14 run to take the match.
In serving, Schmitt and Wolf both had three aces, while junior Jordyn Goldschmidt had two.
Saturday morning began with a Wildcat win over Wayzata. After losing the first set 25-20, Waconia rallied to take sets two and three 26-24 and 25-11.
“Signature win against No. 8-ranked Wayzata,” Lee said. “The girls came ready to play the first match of the morning.”
Wolf collected nine kills and 11 digs, while senior Kirsten Wagener had five blocks.
Lee said the ‘Cats had their work cut out for them after the Wayzata win.
“After defeating Wayzata, we knew two No. 1 ranked teams awaited us, and the girls played at a stellar level to compete against them.”
Lee said freshman Taylor Wolf elevated her level of play to help the Wildcats to strong matches all weekend.
Facing Chaska later on Saturday, Sept. 7, the Wildcats lost 25-23 and 25-18 in a great match against the No. 1 (Class AAA) Hawks. Waconia went on to face the No. 1 team in Class AA, Marshall. Falling 25-22 and 25-17, Lee said the ‘Cats made a “superb effort” against the Tigers.
Waconia will host Shakopee Sept. 16 and Holy Family on the 19th.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]