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Rosemount volleyball earns first-round bye and third seed in sections

Junior Marissa Hinkle sets the ball to her teammates during Rosemount's centennial celebration. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Senior setter Madeline Mackinac serves earlier in the season against Tartan. The Irish earned the third seed for section playoffs and a first-round bye. They play a team TBD on Thursday, Oct. 26. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The Rosemount volleyball team really seemed to find its groove toward the end of the season after some slight hiccups against top competition in September. The Irish finished the regular season with an overall record of 18-9 and took fifth in the South Suburban Conference by going 5-5. Heading into Section 3AAA playoffs, Rosemount is the third seed and has a first-round bye. They will play the winner of Simley and Park of Cottage Grove on Thursday, Oct. 26, in Rosemount.

The Irish won nine of their last 12 matches at the end of September and into October.

"We finished our season strong, I think the only negative we have right now is that Abigail Campbell is injured," head coach Smokey Vitek said. "We filled in with Olivia Furnstahl and she's been doing a great job. We miss Abby's leadership on the court but Olivia is doing a good job."

Vitek said that heading into sections, Rosemount's ability to control possession will be one of their biggest strengths.

"All season long we have been a good ball-control team," she said. "We serve-receive-pass fairly well and play pretty good defense, so we keep the ball in-system, which is really important. At the beginning of the season I think our offense was very strong, and then it kind of took a dip in the middle (of the season), we kind of lost our confidence. Once you get a little bit timid as a hitter, you don't quite jump as high, you don't swing as hard, you don't make as good of decisions, you kind of second-guess yourself and all of that is really critical. I think coming down the stretch here in our last few matches we've really picked up our offense and are doing really well right now."

Heading into sections, Vitek said that they will have some competition to keep them sharp and will work on being more consistent.

"Tonight (Monday) we're going out ot Prior Lake for a scrimmage, there's a bunch of very good teams so that will be good for us," she said. "We're working on consistency in a lot of things that we do. The thing that really hurt us against Lakeville South is that we missed a ton of serves. When you're playing a team like Lakeville South or any of the top-10 teams, you have to serve aggressively and balancing that serving aggressively, but not missing so many serves is one thing we're definitely working on right now. We're also working on consistency of runs on both sides of the net."

Rosemount's section might be one of the toughest in the entire state. The top seeds in section 3AAA consists of top-seeded and ranked (in class 3A) Eagan, no. 2-seed East Ridge (ranked ninth in 3A), Rosemount and fourth seed Eastview (who the Irish beat 3-2 during the regular season). The other teams are Simley, Park, South St. Paul, Cretin-Derham Hall, Hastings, Henry Sibley, Apple Valley and St. Paul Highland Park.

Should the Irish win on Thursday over Simley/Park, they would then play on Wednesday, Nov. 1, in Prior Lake against Cretin-Derham Hall, South St. Paul or East Ridge.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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