Minnetonka High girls volleyball coach Karl Katzenberger scheduled tough opponents on purpose the first week of the 2017 season.
The Skippers won their opener over ninth-ranked Moorhead, 15-25, 25-22, 25-10, 25-21. Against second-ranked Prior Lake Aug. 29, the Skippers again lost the first game 15-25. After winning game two 25-22, they came up short in the next two, 20-25 and 23-25.
“We had the same circumstance in both matches,” said Katzenberger. “I think there was some nervousness at first. Moorhead is a good team, but once we got control we played well. We made a few more plays than Moorhead did. In the Prior Lake match, both teams played well in stretches, but there were other stretches when both of us wish we had played better. Prior Lake’s program has really taken off the last three or four years, and they’re one of the best teams in the state.
“Top to bottom, all of our players have shown improvement,” Katzenberger continued. “[Co-captain] Katelyn Lannom has improved in a lot of areas. She has accepted her leadership role, and everyone in the gym realizes we want to feature her offensively.”
Another player who has grown into a key role is Skyler Germann, a multi-skilled outside hitter.
“At times in the Prior Lake match, Skyler was the best player on the floor,” Katzenberger observed. “She hits well, defends well and serves well. Until this year, she was primarily a setter. She puts on her hard hat and comes to play.”
Junior Dresden Pass has taken over the setter’s role, following the graduation of Minnetonka’s all-time set assist leader, Isabelle Aragon-Menzel.
“Dresden did a tremendous job in preseason,” said Katzenberger. “It’s always hard when you turn the keys over to a new setter after the previous setter has been there for five years, but Dresden has taken a big step forward.”
Minnetonka is young this fall with only four seniors on varsity, however, Katzenberger sees a good season ahead.
“Our goal is to compete against to-ranked teams,” he said. “So far, we have done that.”
In addition to Lannom, the other seniors on the Skippers roster are co-captain Rachel Dill, Sydney Clinton and Jamisen Hannafin. Juniors in addition to Pass are Erin Ackerson, Kaya Gendreau, Drew McDougall, Jinglia McIntosh-Yee, Claire Sester, Erin Shoemaker and Alison Sundem. Germann is the lone sophomore on the varsity roster.
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