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Despite a gimpy left side – the result of a sprained left ankle and ligament damage in her left wrist – nothing was going to keep Shakopee captain Carlee Hoppe from the Sabers’ first state tournament berth since 2009.
Hoppe, who missed the first half of the season with her injuries, provided 13 kills, 27 digs and a gymful of leadership as Shakopee outlasted Roseville 26-24, 11-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-13 in the most closely contested match of the Class 3A quarterfinals.
“It turned out great that I missed the first half,” Hoppe said. “I got to see our middle hitters develop and watch how our team played. But it also feels great to be back.”
Shakopee coach Matt Busch, a tournament veteran, said having Hoppe in the fold in a tight match was vital. “Her confidence out there was keeping things under control,” he said.
The match was so even that the outcome was less about who won than about who didn’t lose.
“It was a game of errors, really,” Busch said. “As prepared as you think you are for this thing, you can tell the nerves were still there.”
Momentum shifted quickly from the outset, each team giving it back nearly as fast as it took command. After splitting the first four sets, the fifth and deciding set was just as close. With the score tied 13-13, Shakopee turned to its defense and forced a pair of Roseville hitting errors to win the set and the match.
“It’s really hard to lose a match like this because there were so many positives,” said Greg Ueland. “This is a special group and that’s why we’re down here. They support each other. That makes it really hard to lose.”