Abby Stanwood

Abby Stanwood hits big for the Minnetonka volleyball team in a season-opening win. (Sun Photo by John Sherman)

Showing a very deep bench Oct. 8, the Minnetonka High girls volleyball team opened the season with a three-set sweep of the Chanhassen Storm.

The Skippers won the first set 25-20 and the second set 25-21 before cruising to a 25-13 win in the third set.

“The thing that stood out was the joy the girls had putting on their jerseys and playing a match,” Minnetonka head coach Karl Katzenberger said. Originally, volleyball was going to be moved from fall to spring by the Minnesota State High School League, with COVID-19 concerns as the reason. But the MSHSL reconsidered and moved the season back to fall.

Minnetonka was ready to roll in the opener. “We have a lot of depth, and all 14 girls played on match night,” Katzenberger said.

Senior setter Olivia Koeppen, a returning starter from last season, showed up sharp, feeding her hitters precisely and also doing a variety of good things as an all-court player.

Junior hitter Abby Stanwood and senior hitter Kali Engeman delivered most of the kills with help from senior Morgan Rooney.

Junior libero Morgan Ryan was able to dive and dig to start the Skippers’ attack. Feisty junior Macy Osenga added to the defense and had two big service runs.

“We had four seniors playing their first varsity match,” Katzenberger said, naming Grace Arndt, Ahna Carlson, Abby Gabler and Audra Smith.

Additional members of the varsity are senior Sonia Dahlin, junior Anna Shoemaker, sophomore Kate Simington and ninth-grader Anna Lockhart.

Katzenberger liked the leadership he saw in the first match. Engeman is a returning captain and Stanwood, in her fourth season of varsity volleyball, is leading with a highly competitive spirit.

“Macy Osenga brings the wild card with her effort and talent,” Katzenberger said.

Offensively, Tonka is already ahead of the game.

“Both Abby and Kali had very good off-seasons,” Katzenberger noted. “It’s no secret that we’ll rely on them for the heavy lifting on offense. Opponents will have a hard time game-planning for both of them.”

Having an experienced setter also puts the offense at an advantage. “Olivia had a lot of responsibility last season as an every-day starter,” Katzenberger said. “In the first match [this season], her comfort level showed.”

Minnetonka finished third in the State Tournament last season after beating Chaska in the Section 2 finals. The big graduation loss was Skyler Germann, an All-State hitter and finalist for the Miss Volleyball Award.

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