It would seem the Waconia volleyball team has found its stride this season, as the ‘Cats rolled through Orono and Hutchinson in WCC matches last week, ending the run with a third place finish in the St. Michael-Albertville tournament.
Defeating Orono 3-0 on Oct. 8, the ‘Cats took all three sets by close scores of 25-21, 25-20, and 25-22. Junior Jessica Wolf, sophomore Makayla Williams, and junior Jenna Van De Velde led Waconia with 19, 9, and 7 kills, respectively, while junior Anna Schmitt dominated at setter with 37 assists. Freshman Taylor Wolf served up three aces, while on defense, senior Samantha Paulson tallied 13 digs.
Winning 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 on Oct. 10, the ‘Cats shut down Hutchinson in similar fashion. Wolf totaled 16 kills and three blocks, while junior Lauren Brettingen served three aces.
WHS head coach Jim Lee said the ball control during the week was very consistent and he hoped it would carry into the weekend, which it did as the ‘Cats defeated Elk River and the host team at St. Michael-Albertville on Friday night, Oct. 11.
Winning 25-22 and 25-18 against Elk River, Wolf (11) and senior Kirsten Wagener (6) led in kills, thanks to 26 assists from Schmitt. Junior Kia Pankey (9 digs), Paulson (8), and senior Julia Allenson (6) kept the back line protected for WHS.
Defeating STMA 25-22, 25-22 that same night, Wolf and Van De Velde had 10 and 6 kills, respectively, complimented by three aces served by senior Roz Holasek.
“Started off pretty slow the first two matches on Friday night,” Lee said. “Saturday we lit a fire and allowed ourselves to compete at a pretty high level with our ball control, offense, and serving.”
Saturday brought wins over Southwest Christian and Buffalo, sandwiched around a loss to Hopkins.
Defeating Southwest Christian 25-17, 26-24, Van De Velde led WHS with eight kills, while Schmitt served four aces. Paulson had nine digs on defense.
A close loss to Hopkins later that day, the Wildcats lost the sets 25-18 and 25-20. Paulson tallied another nine digs for WHS, along with 10 kills from Wolf, but it wasn’t enough.
The ‘Cats faltered against Buffalo, dropping the first set 21-25, only to turn around and take the next two sets 26-24 and 15-8. With 34 assists from Schmitt, Wolf (15 kills) and Wagener (7) were hot at the net. Wagener had four blocks on defense, along with Van De Velde (3).
“Nice to get two quality wins against ranked opponents like Southwest Christian and Buffalo right before playoffs,” Lee said. “Anna Schmitt and Roz Holasek went on some needed serving runs during the weekend and our ball control, once again, allowed us to stick with every opponent.”
Jessica Wolf was named to the All-Tournament team at STMA.
The Wildcats wrapped up the regular season earlier this week at New London-Spicer.
Losing 3-0 to Belle Plaine on Oct. 14, WHS battled for the first set, falling 26-28, then dropped sets two and three 25-15 and 25-13.
“Belle Plaine showed why they’re the No. 3 ranked team in Class AA,” Lee said. “Our serve receive played at a very high level.”
Kill leaders against Belle Plaine were Wolf (21), Wagener (7), and Williams (6).
With the regular season now over, the Wildcats will wait for the section seeding to be announced to see where they fall in Section 2AAA. Postseason play is slated to begin Oct. 23.
The ‘Cats are currently 20-7 overall this season and sit at 8-1 in the Wright County Conference. Delano leads the conference with a perfect 9-0 record, and so the ‘Cats are expected to finish second.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com