The smiles on the Minnetonka faces told the story of the match. The camaraderie between the players told the story of the season. The final five points of the second game with Wayzata Oct. 2 told the story of the Skippers.
Story of the match: Minnetonka moved one win away from a Lake Conference title, a 3-0 sweep of the Trojans. Game scores 25-12, 26-24, 25-18.
Story of the Skippers: Minnetonka, down 24-21 in game two, scored the final five points to secure the momentum throughout, continuing to believe in themselves.
Story of the season: Minnetonka is tied for second in Class AAA state with 19 wins this season.
"Full credit to the players, I was sicker than a dog, missed practice yesterday, and (assistant coach) Lindy Lee got them ready for tonight. The players went out and executed perfectly what we wanted to do. I was a spectator tonight, much like you and others, and that was a lot of fun to watch," Minnetonka coach Karl Katzenberger said.
Minnetonka, outlasted in the first meeting with Wayzata Sept. 17, a 17-15 fifth game decision, dominated the first game in the second meeting, yet was a point away from being tied at one.
Trailing 24-21, Minnetonka got back-to-back kills from Kali Engeman for continued life. Following a Wayzata hit out of bounds to tie the match at 24, Dresi Pass served up an ace before Erin Shoemaker got an attack to fall off the block for the 26-24 improbable win.
No matter the situation, Minnetonka has believed.
"I just think the kids believe in their talent. They believe in their teammates. It's a great place to be coming into the playoff stretch," the Skippers coach said.
While so much attention has been give to the Skippers' attack, the hitting of Erin Shoemaker, sixth in the state in kills, and Skyler Germann, and the setting of Pass, second in the state in assists, Minnetonka's success starts with its defense.
Libero Drew McDougall. Germann, Pass and Shoemaker, and defensive specialists Kaya Gendreau and Macy Osenga. It is a team unit that patrols the back row, having totaled more than 1,000 digs this season.
"The kids give their best effort all the time. That's been our mantra this year. 'Treat each other the right way, and let's play the right way.'Good things happen then. You can see the girls are invested in one another. You can see that in the way they play, the way they try for one another," Katzenberger said.
For Minnetonka, after playing 18 matches in September, October is a bit more spaced out before the playoffs. The Skippers play just four matches, three against Lake Conference opponents.
Victories over Hopkins Oct. 4 and Eden Prairie Oct. 9 would mean a league title outright. One win would mean at least a share of the title.
The hope is Minnetonka has plenty in the tank for a long playoff run to the state tournament.
"We had a choice to be heavy in the front, or heavy in the back, and we decided before they were in school, before things got rolling with school, let's play a bunch of matches. We want to be as physically ready as we can be come the post-season and I think right now they're ready. They have big aspirations for sections and state," Katzenberger said.
Minnetonka is at Hopkins at 7 p.m. Oct. 4.