November 07, 2017 10:16 PM
(ABC 6 News) – For a second-straight season, the Kasson-Mantorville KoMets will represent Section 1 in the Class AA state volleyball tournament—which has helped boost their confidence in 2017.
“We’re healthy and we’re well-rested,” KoMets head volleyball coach Adam VanOort said. “Going back for a second year in a row gives us a different level of comfort with the whole process.”
In the 2016 Class AA tournament, the KoMets reached the semifinals before falling to Maple Lake, the eventual state champions, 3-1—a tough, but meaningful experience for the KoMets.
“Last year, we just kind of learned the ropes up there and now, we’re going in with a better feel of how it all works out,” KoMets junior outside hitter Peyton Suess, a key member of the 2016 team as well, said. “We’re going in with a lot of confidence.”
Kasson-Mantorville received the no.5 seed in the Class AA tournament this year (Maple Lake, the defending champions, are the no.1 seed), and in VanOort’s words, the KoMets are part of a “loaded” class.
“Usually I would say there are probably three or four teams not at the same level as the others, but I think seven of the eight teams are really strong,” VanOort said. “We’ll be ready.”
The KoMets will face no.4 seed Academy of Holy Angels in the Class AA quarterfinals for a second time this season—these two teams met on September 22 in the Southwest Christian Tournament (Holy Angels defeated Kasson-Mantorville, 2-0).
“We’ve played them this year already, but we weren’t healthy then,” VanOort said. “I’m confident in our team. If we play well, we have a good shot to win that match.”
As VanOort said, the KoMets were not healthy—Suess, a Wake Forest commit, was out with mononucleosis, but she was able to take mental notes from the bench in their September match-up against Holy Angels.
“They have some big hitters,” Suess said. “They have a stud right-side hitter (senior Ellie Koontz, who is going to Marquette), she’ll be a tough block. They’re a great team, but we’ll put up a fight.”
“I never really pay attention to who we’re playing,” KoMets junior setter Abbey Bigelow, a University of North Dakota commit, added. “I go out there and play the same volleyball I do every game. I know as long as we take care of things on our side, we can do anything.”
Seeding-wise, the KoMets are the underdogs in their state tournament opener—which the KoMets say they have taken to heart.
“I love being the underdog,” VanOort said. “No matter who we play, we’re going to have a good time and see what we can do. If they can stop us, they can stop us, if not, then we’re going to have some success.”
“I kind of like the idea of being an underdog,” Bigelow said. “Maybe the people above you think ‘oh, they’re not going to win, oh they’re not as good as us,’ so we can come back and just show them what we’re made of, and that ranking doesn’t really matter.”
“We can go in with nothing to lose,” Suess added. “Nothing is expected of us, but we’re always going in looking for an upset.”
The KoMets open the state tournament on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center. Their match against Academy of Holy Angels is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. The Class AA semifinals and finals are slated for Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Updated: November 07, 2017 10:16 PM
Created: November 07, 2017 07:46 PM
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