Volleyball: New conference still unkind to RosemountIrish earn first South Suburban Conference win, 3-1 against Prior Lake
By: Brian Hall, Rosemount Town Pages
As Rosemount volleyball coach Smokey Vitek figures, the Irish have gotten over the emotional element of losing second-year setter Mikaela Sullivan to an injury.
While the offense has yet to find the rhythm it displayed earlier this season with Sullivan in the lineup, there could be a very good reason for the struggles.
It’s a familiar reason for those close to the Rosemount volleyball program. The Irish play in the toughest conference in the state.
Rosemount moved to the South Suburban Conference this season, losing Chaska and Eden Prairie as conference opponents in the process. But, it hasn’t changed a yearly struggle in conference play.
Five South Suburban Conference teams were rated in the top 7 in the latest coaches association poll.
“A lot of people say, ‘Well, it’s just one player.” when talking about losing Mikaela,” Vitek said. “But I tell them, it’s like losing your quarterback. They seem to understand that more. But the tougher thing, we’re paying tougher competition than when Mikaela was in there. That is throwing our game of as well. Every game we’ve played outside of Prior Lake in the South Suburban has been to a ranked team.
“They’re good teams. It’s not like we’re losing to bad teams. We are losing to good teams and we’ve been competitive with several of them. We should be more competitive.”
Rosemount earned its first win in South Suburban play last week with a 3-1 home win against Prior Lake. Two days later, the Irish lost 3-2 at No. 7 Lakeville South.
“I think on a positive note, we’ve played well outside of the Jefferson and Lakeville South games,” Vitek said. “We’ve played well against the other teams. I know we can compete with them. We just have to step up our game, eliminate errors on our side of the net and win those close points. I think we can play with any of those teams.”
Rosemount (8-6, 1-4 South Suburban) looked like a confident team in beating Prior Lake 25-22, 25-23, 22-25 and 25-18.
Jaclyn D’Amico led the team with 11 kills and 17 digs. Ali Fromme and Zoe Peterson each had nine kills. Natalie Busher added eight kills as Cassie Hansen passed out 37 assists.
Elaine Warner had six kills and two blocks.
Fromme and Nicole Valentini each had 12 digs. Hansen finished with 10 digs.
“Overall, I thought we played well,” Vitek said. “We should have beat them in three games, we just didn’t finish. We learned our lesson. It was one of Cassie’s better games. She and the middles started to connect and they will continue to get better. It takes time.”
Lakeville South swept through a 25-14, 25-22, 25-16 game.
Peterson led the Irish with eight kills. Fromme and Warner had five kills apiece. Hansen had 22 assists.
Valentini led the team with eight digs. Warner had two blocks.
“They played well and they have a quick offense and we struggled to respond to that,” Vitek said.
The Irish play at No. 5 Eastview tonight and hope it will be the last of the ranked competition for a while. This weekend, Rosemount plays in the Burnsville tournament.
The Irish drew Stillwater in the first round. The game is set for 6:30 on Friday.