by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
When Osseo High volleyball coach Bill Quan first looked at his team’s early season schedule, he knew his team would be severely challenged. Among the teams the Orioles had to tangle against are last year’s state tournament entrant and No. 9 Roseville and a match at No. 3 Blaine, which took third at last year’s state tournament.
But six matches later, the Orioles are a perfect 6-0. To make their record even more impressive, the Orioles swept both Roseville and Blaine.
“It has been a fun start to the season. I don’t think anyone would have predicted a 6-0 start for us playing the schedule we did to start the season,” said Quan.
Osseo does not have a super star or Div. I signees on its roster but has a group of excellent players who play well as a team.
“I think that our girls have embraced the idea of team,” Quan said. “Our chemistry and communication on the floor is as good as I have seen since I have been coaching here at Osseo.”
The Orioles also have lots of experience as they return six starters from a team that lost to Blaine in the section finals last fall. Leading the way are seniors Megan Pekarek, Jackie Jones, Jazlynn Tanielu and Touria Techam. Juniors Emily Carman, Hannah Pekarek, Shiah Sanders and freshman Tina Boe round out the varsity rotation.
Osseo traveled to defending section champion Blaine Sept. 10. The Bengals came into the game ranked third in the state with a 3-0 record but the Orioles were not intimidated and took control of game one early with aggressive serving, a balanced attack and solid defense. The Orioles took game one by a score of 25-18, capped off with a kill from Boe.
In game two Osseo jumped out to an early lead only to see Blaine chip away at the lead and take a 23-22 lead on a Taylor Morgan and Lydia Dimke block. Jones sided out to tie the score at 23. Blaine sided out to take a 24-23 lead but Sanders recorded two kills in a row to give Osseo a game point at 25-24. Tanielu and Boe then teamed up to finish off the comeback for Osseo with a kill to win game two 26-24.
Game three was a back-and-forth sideout battle early. With the game tied at 9 Osseo took control of the game and pulled ahead by a score of 19-13 with some tough serving that put Blaine frequently out of system. Blaine went on a 5-0 run to close lead to one point. A block by Sanders and Emily Carman gave Osseo the momentum back and the Orioles went on to win 25-19.
Quan said team balance and chemistry helped Osseo counter Blaine’s superb individual talent.
“To all the girls on the team, a win is more important than their individual stats,” he said. “Through six games we have four players with almost the same number of kills.”
Osseo started the season with a come-from-behind win at Section 5 foe Totino Grace Aug. 27. Led by Concordia St. Paul-bound Hope Schiller, Totino Grace won games one and two 25-19 and 25-20. After a change in their rotation Osseo came out with more energy in the third game and won 25-20. In game four Osseo picked up the offense and made some crucial digs to run away by a score of 25-12.
In game 5 Totino Grace came out strong and took an early 5-1 lead. Osseo stayed calm and fought its way back and won the decisive game 15-10.
On the night Boe led a balanced attack with 12 kills and eight blocks. Megan Pekarek collected 40 assists on the night. Tanielu anchored the defense with 25 kills.
The Orioles won their NWSC season opener Sept. 3 over an Armstrong team led by senior setter Indigo Thompson. Osseo jumped out to early leads in games one and two, but had to fight off late rallies by Armstrong to win 26-24 and 25-19. In game three the Orioles tightened up the defense and held Armstrong to 10 points.
In the match Hannah Pekarek, Jones, Boe, and Sanders each had 8-9 kills and Pekarek, Jones, and Tanielu each had 20+ digs.
Next up was an impressive 3-0 win over 2012 state tournament entrant Roseville, ranked as the preseason favorite in Section 9AAA. Although coming into the match 0-3 all of the Raiders’ losses were close matches to top 15 teams.
In a back-and-forth game one Osseo held on for a 25-23 win. Trailing 22-23 Jones tallied two kills and Osseo cashed in on a Roseville hitting error to complete the comeback.
In game two Osseo took an early lead and closed out the game with another Jones kill. In game 3 Roseville jumped out to an early lead but Osseo tied it up at 14 on a Boe kill from the right side. Boe then went back and served four straight points to extend the lead to 18-14 before Roseville could side out. Roseville made a run of their own to close the score to 20-19. Osseo stopped their run on the longest point of the match on an overpass kill by Hannah Pekarek. Osseo went on to finish off the game 25-20 ending the match on a Touria Techam ace.
Last Thursday Osseo traveled to district rival Park Center. Park Center came out battling in game one taking a commanding 13-4 lead. Osseo regrouped after a time out and went on a 21-5 run to win game one 25-18. In game two Osseo jumped out to an early lead that they would not relinquish and ran away in game two by a score of 25-10. In game three Park Center fought hard early, but Osseo pulled away and took a 24-12 Lead. Park Center went on a late run, but it was not enough and Osseo went on to win 25-18.
The Orioles went on to beat St. Charles last Saturday 2-0.
Osseo next hosts Maple Grove Thursday, Sept. 19.
Contact Bob San at email@example.com