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Irish volleyball falls to Eagan in section semifinals

Senior Abigail Campbell floats the ball over the net during Rosemount's section semifinal loss to the top-ranked Wildcats. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Freshman Ava Cinnamo elevates close to the net for the set during Tuesday night's match at Eagan. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Furnstahl and a teammate get the block during the first set against Eagan. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Senior Olivia Furnstahl extends to get the ball past the Eagan block. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

Rosemount volleyball faced off with the top-ranked Eagan Wildcats Tuesday night in Eagan for the chance to advance to the Section 3AAA championship match. The Irish knew going in that they would have to play close to flawless volleyball to be able to beat the Wildcats, and while they played well, it was not enough as they were swept by Eagan 3-0—25-13, 25-16, 25-14. Rosemount finishes the season with an overall record of 13-18 and will graduate six seniors that made up the core of this year's squad.

The Irish started slowly in the first set which allowed the Wildcats to establish an early 5-0 lead. They were able to settle into more of a groove from there, but that sluggish start cost them as they were never able to catch up to Eagan, who led 15-8 and then 20-10 before winning the first set 25-13.

Rosemount started much better in the second set and had it tied 4-4 early. They were playing very well but the Wildcats were still able to pull away for 14-8 and 19-13 leads. They then were able to go on a run and put the Irish away 25-16. The third set was much of the same and Rosemount fell 25-13 to lose 3-0.

Looking back on the season as a whole, senior Jenna Grutzmacher said the Irish overcame adversity throughout the season and head coach Smokey Vitek echoed her comments.

"A lot of obstacles to overcome," Grutzmacher said. "A lot of injuries, a lot of just new things going on. I thought we did a really good job staying connected as team and working through the adversity. Just being open to trying new things, we had a lot of different players in a lot of different spots and just adapting to that."

"Perseverance I think for us," said Vitek describing the season. "Just working through having a young setter or limited experience setters, working through injuries, working through moving some kids to different spots. But I think they all kind of dug in and fought for it as a team, so perseverance is probably what I would say with these guys."

When asked to identify what they thought the highlight(s) of the season were, both cited different matches as examples of the Irish at their best.

"I think going into five (sets) with Prior Lake, losing only 13-15, that was a really intense game and I think that's some of the best volleyball we've ever played," Grutzmacher said. "And even though we lost, it was still a really fun, intense game and I think it gave us a lot of confidence."

"I thought our Simley match was one of our best matches of the year in the quarterfinals," Vitek said. "I thought it was just a really solid effort from everybody on the court. We saw a lot of the kids execute our game plan, it was one thing we struggled with, saying 'this is our game plan, execute on it.' So they did a really nice job with that and they played well together, it was just good excitement."

Rosemount graduates seniors Mari Hinkle, Lauren Van Sickle, Grutzmacher, Abigail Campbell, Kaitlyn McLean and Olivia Furnstahl. However, they will return Ava and Mya Cinnamo, Darienne Andre, Isabella Ottman, Gabriella Scott and Alexa Ratzlaff. Ottman and Scott are the only juniors of that group.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a RiverTown Multimedia sports reporter covering Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount athletics. He graduated from Drake University with a journalism degree in 2014. 

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