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Volleyball: Irish change course with 18-11 season

A year of transition finished up with the Rosemount volleyball team heading in the right direction.

The Irish closed out the 2012 season with a 19-25, 22-25, 23-25 loss on the road at 19-6 Burnsville in the Section 3AAA tournament last Thursday night. They wound up with a record of 18-11 after finishing at 13-14 the previous fall.

"Overall, the season was solid. Our seniors did a great job of leading our team and driving some critical changes to the program's culture," Rosemount coach Smokey Vitek said. "They will be missed, but they have set a solid foundation for us to build upon."

Seniors led the Irish in several categories in the loss at Burnsville. Katie Duff tied with Brittany McLean for the team lead with eight digs, senior Meghan Schuster had four blocks and Kim Correll had a team-high six digs to go along with six assists. Other senior members of the team were Melissa Seldon, Molly Gruenke and Haley Zweber.

The Irish kept all three games close, but struggled to put the ball down against Burnsville's defense. Outside of Duff and McLean, the rest of the team combined to register just two kills in 32 tries.

"You can't win close battles without a semi-balanced offense," Vitek said. "Burnsville played very scrappy defense and had a big block. I think this frustrated our hitters into backing off a bit."

The offense had an easier time in last Tuesday's section tournament opener. The Irish slammed 41 kills in 93 attempts in a 25-18, 25-16, 25-22 sweep of 11th-seeded Bloomington Jefferson.

Duff had a monster game, hammering down 18 kills while making just one error.

"Katie Duff was instrumental in getting us to settle down. She was unstoppable on offense," Vitek said. "She was smart, swinging hard when she had the opportunity, but also using well-placed shots to get her points."

McLean added 12 kills and Slinde had five. Each had a pair of ace serves.

Correll put up 18 set assists and Slinde added 13 assists and eight digs.

Zweber led the defense with 16 digs and 21 serve receptions.