The Royals’ historic 2021 volleyball season ended with a thrilling third-place match in the Class 4A state tournament. In the end, the No. 2 team in Class 4A came out on top.
No. 2 Eden Prairie (21-7) defeated No. 5 Rogers (29-6) 3-2 in the Class 4A state tournament third-place match on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Rogers head coach Bo Schmidt said it was an incredible battle by the girls. Schmidt has been Rogers’ head coach since 2018.
“Losing the first set 33-31 after going back and forth with the No. 2 ranked team in the state I thought could have been a backbreaker for us,” Schmidt said. “When we came back in the second set and won it, the way the match went: each set was decided by three or less points between each set in the match. We had to be engaged and work hard and concentrate on our goals the whole way through. It came down to a 15-13 loss in the fifth set. I couldn’t be more proud of how the girls battled, how they stayed focused and left it all on the court.”
In a back-and-forth first set, the Eagles defeated the Royals 33-31 as neither team was able to establish its dominance. Rogers answered by winning set two 25-22 before Eden Prairie came back with a 25-23 win in the third set. Facing elimination, Rogers forced a fourth set, winning 25-22 to extend its 2021 season to a fifth and decisive set. However, Eden Prairie came out on top, winning set five 15-13. Both teams scored 117 points. Freshman setter Anya Schmidt led Rogers with 20 kills while senior outside hitter Brynn Reines led the Royals with 25 digs. Eden Prairie senior middle blocker Kendall Minta led all players on both teams with 21 kills.
The Royals look to return to the Class 5A state tournament in 2022, which will be Coach Schmidt’s fifth season in charge of the program.
Bo Schmidt said he’ll never forget walking out on Wednesday to the courts at Xcel Energy Center for the first time.
“I’ll never forget walking out on Wednesday and walking up to the edge where the seats start to go down at the Xcel Energy Center, seeing the court set up with no fans in the stands yet, the calm before the storm and then, when we left our locker room on Wednesday and made our way to the court and heard the roar of the crowd," he said. "It was the biggest crowd we’d ever seen for volleyball before and it was so exciting. To go play like we did in our first match against a good Lakeville North team and our first meeting in state, they played great. [It was] incredibly exciting to be a part of.”