Waconia's Taylor Wolf (14) and Ellie Dammann (15) block a shot by Bethlehem Academy's Payton Nutter (10). The Wildcats upset the Cardinals, the top-ranked team in Class 1A, in three sets. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Senior Taylor Wolf led Waconia with 12 kills and 18 assists. Photo by Mark Hvidsten
With a vicious kill, a perfectly set assist or a game-changing block, Waconia’s Taylor Wolf can make her teammates smile on the court.
What’s not so apparent to spectators is Wolf’s ability to make anyone laugh.
“(Taylor’s) really goofy, makes everyone happy and brings a lot of energy,” younger sister Kali Wolf said.
A four-year veteran for the Wildcats, Wolf puts the goofiness aside while playing and instead provides a calming presence as the team’s most versatile player.
“She leads well on the floor,” Waconia coach Katie Keogh said. “The girls look to see how she reacts in rough sets, and she just has a calm on the floor.”
Wolf gave her teammates plenty to smile about Tuesday night, as she led the Wildcats with 12 kills and 18 assists in a 25-19, 25-21, 25-18 victory over Class 1A powerhouse Bethlehem Academy at Waconia High School.
However, she still had unfinished business in the gymnasium after the match.
Recently voted to the school’s homecoming court, Wolf remained on the court to film her candidacy video. With a pink dress draped over her shoulders, she spiked a set ball and sent waves of laughter and cheers through the building.
“She’s nice, kind and funny, and always finds a way to put a smile on your face,” said Bob Flemming, Wolf’s homecoming running mate.
The postgame celebration was also a crowning achievement for the Wildcats (8-2), who won their eighth game of the season to match last year’s regular season total.
Wolf has played an important role in Waconia's resurgence. She has 73 kills, 102 assists and 17 aces to go with 28 digs in the first four games of the year and is on pace to meet or exceed her performance as a junior, when she posted 203 kills, 459 assists, 36 aces, 45 blocks and 153 digs.
A threat on all areas of the floor, Wolf forced the Cardinals (4-5), who are the top-ranked team in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, to respect her as a hitter, opening up lanes for a well-rounded supporting cast.
“We run all of our hitters as often as we can so defenses have to be honest, which opens up opportunities for (isolation) blocks,” Keogh said.
It will take a team effort to help Waconia achieve its goals this season.
The Wildcats hope to win the Wright County Conference title, earn a high seed in Class 3A, Section 2 tournament and make a long postseason run, especially after falling to top-seeded Prior Lake in the section quarterfinals last year.
Sweeping No. 13-3A Eden Prairie on Sept. 1 can only help their cause.
“Our goal is to be conference champs and hopefully get past the second round of sections,” Taylor Wolf said.
The Wildcats enter the league stretch of the season next week when Wolf's video will also premiere to the student body, and she will likely will counted on to bring some comedic relief with a matchup looming against a Hutchinson team that went undefeated in Wright County Conference East Division play a year ago.
Wolf and her teammates have put last season's 8-18 record in the rearview mirror and they are confident that there will be more smiles and laughter ahead for the Wildcats.
“I think we’re coming together as a better team this year,” Taylor Wolf said. "I think that's why we've been playing better."
Senior Taylor Wolf tallied 12 kills and 18 assists to lead Waconia to a 25-19, 25-21, 25-18 home victory over Bethlehem Academy on Tuesday night.
Wolf's powerful attack at the net resulted in four kills that fueled an eight-point uncontested run in the third set. She closed out the set with two more kills, clinching the match and helping avenge the Wildcats' 3-0 loss to the Cardinals last season.
The win over Bethlehem Academy, the top-ranked team in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, also extends a four-game winning streak for Waconia (8-2).
Payton Nutter led the Cardinals (4-5) with 10 kills.