Rebels take a break and then take on No. 2 Blaine

Volleyball team exits hectic stretch at .500 with 6-6 overall record

Champlin Park senior Taylor Goar attacks the net in a home match against Maple Grove last year. Goar and the Rebels host second-ranked Blaine Thursday, Sept. 20. (File photo by Nick Clark – Sun Newspapers)

Champlin Park senior Taylor Goar attacks the net in a home match against Maple Grove last year. Goar and the Rebels host second-ranked Blaine Thursday, Sept. 20. (File photo by Nick Clark – Sun Newspapers)

In the face of what could possibly be their stiffest test of the volleyball season, and in the midst of what has been an up-and-down start to the year, Champlin Park head coach John Yunker’s preparation included something he had yet to do this fall.

But, contrary to how many coaches might react to a full seven days to get ready for a visit from the second-ranked team in all of Minnesota, his approach was one of rest.

And that meant a weekend off for the Rebels, which is something their schedule hadn’t allowed thus far.

“It is a chance to catch up and recover, and I think we all could use it,” said Yunker, whose team just came off a 10-match in 10-day stretch that finished with the Rebels sitting at .500 (6-6) a dozen games into the season.

“Look at [last] week alone,” Yunker continued. “We were in Marshal for the tournament over the weekend. We get Sunday off, but then we play Monday, we play Tuesday, practice Wednesday, and play again Thursday. That’s a lot of volleyball.”

From Champlin Park’s perspective, it has been a lot of inconsistent volleyball as well. There have been highlights, including victories over Perham, Andover and Northfield during that trip to Marshall for one of the state’s premier high school volleyball tournaments.

There was also a swift 3-0 victory over Mounds View Sept. 10, which at the time boosted the record to 6-4.

But a five-set loss vs. Elk River and a three-set defeat at Centennial ended that stretch of 10 matches in 10 days and greeted what was a seven day break before No. 2 Blaine visits at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20.

“We get a break, and we get a chance to practice three straight days [this] week,” Yunker said. “We haven’t had a lot of practice time, and that is where can make some technical adjustments and maybe even solidify our lineup a little bit.”

The rotation has been three deep at every position thus far, as the Rebels attempt to decoy returning all-conference outside hitter Taylor Goar. The results have been mixed, Yunker said. But that hasn’t stopped them from finding Goar as often as possible.

“She is getting the majority of our swings, and that is what we want,” Yunker said. “Good, bad or otherwise, teams know it. Sometimes we are able to find other people and open it up a little bit, and sometimes it is all Taylor and we go from there.”

Goar is not a bad place to start, after spending her summer playing on a national level team that captured a national championship at her age level.

But her summer also included jaw surgery, and a recovery process that held her out of Champlin Park’s opener; a 3-0 defeat at Totino-Grace.

Yunker said the senior has been fine since returning though.

“She came back a lot stronger than I expected her to as far as just physical ability,” Yunker said. “Having jaw surgery is quite the deal. But she really did a good job of keeping herself in shape as best she could, and she has handled it really well.”

The rest of the team will try and do the same with the rest of the schedule. The Blaine match will be tough, but Champlin Park followed it up with home matches against Rogers (Sept. 24) and Anoka (Sept. 27) before heading to October.

“We still have some competition on the team and we are still shuffling some kids in and out,” Yunker said. “Once we get some of that stuff figured out hopefully we can go on a little bit of a run. We can play. We’ve proven that. It is just about doing it night in and night out.”

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