Hopkins sophomore Madison Meyer sends the ball over the net against Minnetonka. Hopkins won 3-1 on Thursday at Minnetonka High School. Photo by Carter Jones, SportsEngine
In order for her team to succeed, Hopkins coach Vicki Swenson said the Royals need to avoid “riding the roller coaster” of emotion.
“We don’t want to get too excited about the highs or too disappointed about the lows,” Swenson said. “But in our third set tonight, I think we did just that. We just need to play steady, and that’s something I think we can improve on.”
The emotional third set is the only one the Royals, ranked No. 8 in the Class 3A coaches' poll, lost in their 25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 26-24 victory over No. 8-3A Minnetonka—a team they lost to in four sets just three weeks earlier. The Skippers' loss halts a nine-game winning streak and is their first conference setback this season.
The Skippers (15-4, 5-1) were led offensively by senior Katelyn Lannom with 15 kills—nearly half of them coming in the fourth set alone.
“Minnetonka has some great rotations, but to us, it really isn’t about Minnetonka,” Swenson said. “We need to focus on our side of the net, control what we are doing, and keep them out of their system.”
After winning the first two sets by scores of 25-19, the Royals lost the third set by four points. They went down 9-4 in the fourth set on nine consecutive points to the Skippers. That’s when the emotion Swenson mentioned kicked in.
“Those streaks aren’t unusual for us this season, unfortunately,” Swenson said. “During our timeouts, the girls were talking about what they wanted to do, and I told them to go out and prove it. You can talk about it all you want, but they actually had to fight and walk their talk.”
The Royals (13-6, 5-2) evaded extra unnecessary emotion by sealing the win in the fourth set, avoiding a fifth frame.
“You want to win that fourth set and finish the game because Minnetonka is riding their emotions, too,” Swenson said. “It wasn’t easy, but we have to let our girls work on improving in those close sets, figure out how to work through tough situations, and show that mental toughness and grit in the end when it really matters.”
Overcoming the hurdle of emotions will come with age and experience, Swenson said. Junior Anna Erickson, who led the Royals with 20 kills on Thursday, said that she can help tame all of the team emotions up by being more of a leader.
“I want to step up my leadership a little bit, especially since the team looks to me to stay positive on the court,” Erickson said. “If my teammates are down, I have to pick them up.”
Erickson mentioned emotions will steady as chemistry gets even better throughout her team, and the chemistry will come with more familiarity of teammates.
“We came into the season with a lot of new girls, but since the beginning we’ve become really close,” she said. “We dot a lot of pasta parties, get to know each other through fundraising as a team.”
In addition, the older players take responsibility of making the newer or younger players feel comfortable.
“The returners on the team focus on being with the younger girls; they pick them up to go out to eat," Erickson said. "We all have a Snapchat and texting group and contact each other to see how our school day is going. So just building up that relationship outside of volleyball will help get us closer on the court.”
In a rematch from three weeks ago that saw Minnetonka victorious, Hopkins, ranked No. 8 in the Class 3A coaches' poll, defeated No. 9-3A Minnetonka 25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 26-24 Thursday evening.
The Royals (13-6, 5-2) handed the Skippers (15-4, 5-1) their first conference loss of the season and avenged their recent 25-17, 25-21, 20-25, 25-19 home loss to the Skippers -- this time in Minnetonka.
The Royals scored first and never looked back, carrying the lead through for a set one win. They split the following two sets with the Skippers.
Hopkins' Anna Erickson's 20 total match kills helped the Royals overcome a 9-4 deficit early in the fourth set after allowing a run of nine straight Minnetonka points.
Senior Katelyn Lannom led the Skippers with 15 kills.
Minnetonka junior Kaya Gendreau hits the ball against Hopkins. Hopkins defeated the Skippers 3-1 on Thursday night. Photo by Carter Jones, SportsEngine
The MN Volleyball Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.