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Volleyball: Consolation champs

Other than the schedule, everything went right for the Rosemount volleyball team at Saturday's Farmington Invite.

Of the 16 teams in attendance at Tiger Gym, the Irish were the unlucky ones who got paired up with Owatonna in the first round. The 11-3 Huskies went on to win the tournament with four straight sweeps, while the Irish rebounded from their first-round 13-25, 18-25 setback to win three straight matches and the consolation championship.

"We made too many mistakes to beat a strong team like Owatonna. Owatonna does not have a real strong offense like Eagan (which defeated the Irish 3-0 last Thursday), but they have very strong ball control, which forces teams to earn every point," Rosemount coach Smokey Vitek said. "After Owatonna we played steady, smart and intense, which is our goal.... Hopefully we can take our strong play into both our matches next week."

The Irish defeated St. Charles 25-14, 25-19, Brainerd 25-19, 25-11 and Chatfield 25-21 and 26-24 in a competitive consolation finals match.

Brittany McLean led the team with 26 kills and 13 service aces in the tournament. Katie Duff added 19 kills and Erin Slinde led the team in hitting percentage.

Vitek also credited Kim Correll, Brittany Morrison, Haley Zweber and Melissa Selson with great passing and defensive play in the tournament.

The Irish closed out last week's South Suburban Conference slate with a 17-25, 5-25, 8-25 loss at the hands of undefeated and third-ranked (Class 3A) Eagan in Eagan.

Vitek was pleased with her team's strong start in Game 1.

"Our approach was to battle every point and force the Wildcats to earn points. We did a great job of this in set one. We played with good intensity and patience," she said. "They run a very fast offense which took us a little while to adjust to but we did make good adjustments. Although we lost the set, it was probably one of our best sets of the season."

Games 2 and 3 were a different story.

"We started with a few errors and then lost our confidence. Once you get out of rhythm against a strong team like Eagan they just eat you alive and that is what they did," she said. "We struggled to recover and played probably our two worst sets of the season."

The Irish opened conference play last Tuesday with a 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-22 victory on the road at Bloomington Jefferson.

Duff led the team with 19 kills and Slinde and McLean each added 11. Bri Glaus chipped in six kills.

Zweber led the team with 29 digs and Correll tacked on 17.

The Irish, now 5-5 overall and 1-1 in the SSC, are back in action tonight a Bloomington Kennedy.