Hopkins High’s girls volleyball program has reloaded for the 2017 season with several impressive pre-conference victories.
Coach Vicki Swenson watched her team beat Orono 25-12, 25-9, 25-19 in a match played Aug. 29 at Hopkins Lindbergh Center.
“Our kids are committed to the sport year-round,” said Swenson. “And that makes a big difference. Three matches into the season, we have a good mix of veterans and young players.”
The Royals do not have captains as such, but Swenson relies heavily on her four seniors – Emma Carlson, Tara Lee, Katie Newman and Jane Nelson.
“The seniors are showing the other players the Royal way,” said Swenson. “They don’t need a title to be leaders.”
Junior Anna Erickson, the Royals’ top returning hitter, has state tournament experience along with ability and versatility.
“Anna played in the middle her freshman year and was on the right side last year,” said Swenson. “This year, she’s hitting from the left side. She has a very high volleyball I.Q.”
Lee is the returning setter from last year’s state-qualifying team. She has a knack for getting everyone involved and made the All-Lake Conference team last season.”
Hopkins is off to a 2-1 start this season, with the loss coming against an experienced Elk River squad.
“I am OK with losing in August, as long as we keep moving forward,” said Swenson. “We bounced back from that one to beat a Prior Lake team that was ranked second in state.
“Against Orono, we played an efficient match,” Swenson continued. “Our passing was good and we made good hitting choices.”
Swenson said she is looking forward to the Lake Conference portion of the season. Hopkins swept its way to the conference title last season, but it’s usually a battle between the top four teams – Hopkins, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Wayzata.
“They’re all great programs,” said Swenson. “And Edina is improving. They have a couple Division I players this year. It’s great volleyball in the Lake Conference.”
Swenson said one of the joys of coaching has been watching Hopkins players go on to the next level.
“We have had more than 70 girls go on to play college volleyball,” she noted.
Fans of the sport can see two former Royals on the court with the Minnesota Gophers this season. Setter Samantha Seliger Swenson was All-Big Ten last year. Jasmyn Martin, who led Hopkins to state last year, is a first-year hitter.
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