The Caledonia High School volleyball team has tasted defeat eight times this season, but that has only made them mentally and physically stronger, coach Scott Koepke said. It’s all part of a season-long learning experience.
Along the way, the Warriors (22-8) have accomplished a perfect conference season after finishing 12-0 to clinch the Three Rivers Conference title and earned the No. 1 seed heading into postseason play. With a 25-10, 25-11, 25-17 win over Kingsland and another 25-11, 25-20, 25-15 victory over Spring Grove to start their postseason run, the Warriors are rolling in the right direction.
Tonight, they hope to keep it going against No. 2 seed Mabel Canton (28-5) at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m.
“We’re gearing up for a really tough match and just trying to focus on every part of the game,” said Koepke, who took the Warriors to MSHSL state tournament in 2012 and 2016. “They’re a good team and we have to play well. They’re tough and they’re balanced and they’re just good.”
But the Warriors are good, too.
Outside hitter Madisyn Heaney, an all-around talent, leads the team in kills, 30.5 blocks and is among the leader in digs. Lydia Lange has been a powerful hitter, too. The successful hitting has been due, in part, to Adrianna Reinhart’s assists.
“Madisyn is a fiery competitor and she gets after it. She loves to swing hard at the ball and create big kills for her team,” Koepke said. “Adrianna is a calming influence on everyone on our team. She never ever gives up on a play — ever. She always believes she can get the ball up and she almost always does.”
The road to success had a couple bumps in the way but the team has used them as learning experiences, according the Koepke. Half of the team’s losses have come from the Lakeville North Bachmann Memorial Invitational. The tournament featured some of the top AAA schools from the Twin Cities and schools from as far away as South Dakota.
The Warriors ended up playing for 16th place in the 16-team tournament after losing to Lakeville South, East Ridge, Rochester Mayo, and Jackson County Central.
“We had some really competitive rallies that we were proud of and it exposed everything that we feel we needed to polish up before the tournament run. We don’t go in expecting to win that tournament. The teams are too big and too good but we learned a lot from that experience and the kids kept at it,” Koepke said.
The learning experienced served well for the team as it is in a position that’s only two wins away from state. Reaching the state tournament is the ultimate goal for the Warriors after the goal was set in August, Koepke said. With putting a heavy focus on blocking and serving during practice, Koepke beleives his team is ready for anything they may face tonight.
“I think we know how to lose. We worked as hard as we can and we can be proud of ourselves. It would be hard on the girls, but in life things come at you and it’s difficult and we have to learn to handle that as well,” Koepke said.
“If we move on, it’ll be a short celebration. We’d have another tough match Saturday afternoon, so we’d hit reset and then get back at it again.”