Minnetonka senior Katelyn Lannom directed a shot past Hopkins defender Nyakim Tut (6) during the Skippers' four-set victory over the Royals. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Minnetonka's Jingjia McIntosh-Yee (right) kept the ball in play during a fourth-set volley as setter Dresden Pass (left) backed her up. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Before any of the drama unfolded on the court between No. 9-3A Minnetonka and No. 8-3A Hopkins, there was a short delay as the scorer’s table had trouble playing the National Anthem.
After a couple failed attempts, with the table playing Kanye West’s “Stronger” instead the anthem, there was a consensus decision to have the entire crowd sing the anthem together.
“That was the right thing to do at that moment,” Minnetonka head coach Karl Katzenberger said. “I think that’s cool, that everybody decided to sing it. I thought that was really appropriate.”
The game saw two teams enter with a 2-0 record in the Lake Conference. Minnetonka now stands as the only undefeated team left in the conference, as they beat Hopkins 3-1.
There was no doubt that the Skippers were the better team in this game, but the Royals helped them out with a lot of errors in the first two sets.
“I don’t think we came ready to play at 0-0. We waited until our backs were against the wall, and then we played pretty well.” Hopkins head coach Vicki Swenson said.
The Skippers had a consistently good performance throughout the game. Their offense at plenty of depth, as five different players had five or more kills. Setting up a majority of those kills was Dresden Pass, who had 23 assists in the game.
Katzenberger said he was impressed with his team’s performance, especially coming on the road.
“It is incredibly difficult to win in this building,” he said, “but this is what the Lake Conference is all about, is who plays best on any given night. We saw that Minnetonka made a few more plays in key moments.”
The only time when the win looked in doubt for the Skippers was when Hopkins found their ideal lineup and came back to win the third set.
Katzenberger described that set as a “learning process” for his young team, which has only four seniors.
“We need to learn those lessons about if you get a chance to eliminate a game in three, you need to take it because Hopkins is dangerous if you give them extra chances.”
Hopkins’ duo of Tara Lee and Anna Erickson showed how dangerous they can be, as they were a bug reason for the Royal’s third-set victory. Lee routinely set up Erickson with great sets, making it easy for Erickson to rack up kills. Lee finished with 35 assists, while Erickson had 24 kills.
Their performances were not enough to get a victory for Hopkins, and now, the focus is on the future. Coach Swenson emphasized that she is focusing on the near future.
“We try not to get too far ahead of ourselves, I’m more worried about practice tomorrow and what we’re going to do to get better.”
In a matchup between the top two teams in the Lake Conference, Minnetonka came away with the 3-1 victory on the road at Hopkins.
These teams came into the game both ranked in the top ten in Class 3A, and they were both 2-0 so far in conference play. The Skippers are now the only team left without a loss in the Lake Conference, as they take an early lead in the standings.
The Skippers were the better team in the four-set victory, but they got some help from Hopkins, as the Royals committed many errors in the first two sets to dig themselves into a hole.
The Royals came back to life in the third set, winning 25-20. Junior Anna Erickson helped spark the comeback, continually racking up points for the Royals; she finished the game with 24 kills.
The Skippers showed their mental toughness by closing out the game with a 25-19 fourth-set victory. Their offense was well-rounded, as five different players had five or more kills. Setting up those kills was junior Dresden Pass, who had 23 assists.