Volleyball: Irish lose game, key teammateTop setter Mikaela Sullivan is out for the season with an injury
By: Brian Hall, Rosemount Town Pages
First-year volleyball coach Smokey Vitek knew the season would get incrementally tougher as the Irish started play in the South Suburban Conference last week.
With five teams ranked in the top eight in Class 3A and one other receiving votes, the South Suburban is considered the top volleyball conference in the state, much as the former Lake Conference was before most of the teams moved to the South Suburban this year.
Rosemount opened the conference season with a contest against No. 1 Lakeville North last week. The Irish were then scheduled to play in the Farmington tournament, which featured more ranked teams.
Vitek knew the competition was getting tougher. She didn’t know the Irish would be facing the challenge without their top setter.
In a 3-0 loss against Lakeville North last week, Rosemount lost junior setter Mikaela Sullivan for the season due to an injury. The Irish lost 25-8, 25-20 and 25-22 against the Panthers, but the loss of a teammate was felt more than a loss in the standings.
“I think for this group of girls, they are closer than a typical team, so it’s been emotional and very devastating for the kids,” Vitek said. “I don’t think they’ve gone through the loss of a player before, at least for a season. I think it’s the first time for that. I’m hoping it kind of took its toll at Farmington and we can recover this week and play well again.”
The hangover from Sullivan’s injury was apparent two days later as the Irish went 2-2 at the Farmington tournament. Rosemount beat Visitation 24-26, 25-22 and 15-9, and then beat Le Sueur-Henderson 12-25, 25-23 and 15-12 to advance to the semifinals. The Irish lost 25-10 and 25-20 against Lakeville South and finished with a 26-24, 17-25, and 16-14 loss to Bloomington Kennedy.
“I think more than anything, losing Mikaela was just emotionally draining,” Vitek said. “Losing your setter is like losing your quarterback. We didn’t play well at Farmington, but it wasn’t because of the setting. The rest of the game really hurt us more. We weren’t really mentally focused on playing.”
The Irish struggled in the first game, but challenged Lakeville North in the next two games.
“We adjusted and got better after the first game,” Vitek said. “We scored more points on them than any other team has this year. We almost took the third game. So, I was pleased with the match there.
“And that was with Cassie (Hansen) in there. We were really coming along and playing well. It was an exciting match.”
Sullivan started and had five assists before the injury. Hansen came in and finished with 16 assists while directing the offense. Zoe Peterson, Ali Fromme and Natalie Busher each had five kills to lead the Irish.
Hansen had 28 assists as Rosemount beat Visitation in the first game of the Farmington tournament. Elaine Warner had eight kills. Fromme had seven kills, four service aces and 15 digs.
In the second game of the tournament, Rosemount narrowly beat Le Sueur-Henderson, which is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A.
Hansen had 18 assists. Peterson led the team with seven kills. Nicole Valentini had 18 digs, and Jaclyn D’Amico finished with 10 digs.
“We started slow, but came around to beat them,” Vitek said. “That was, by far, our best match of the day.”
Lakeville South is ranked No. 7 in Class 3A and looked the part against the Irish, jumping out to a 25-10 victory in game one. Hansen had 12 assists.
Bloomington Kennedy in the finale was tough for Vitek. Fromme had 10 kills and 12 digs for Rosemount.
The Irish host No. 3 Bloomington Jefferson today.