By Bob San
Osseo-Maple Grove Sports
They didn’t get the state championship they were after, but Osseo High volleyball players were all smiles after sweeping Eden Prairie
25-20, 25-14, 28-26 to win third place at the state tournament last Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
The Orioles, seeded second, swept Rochester Mayo in the quarterfinal 27-25, 25-19, 25-18. But they saw their state championship hopes dashed when they lost to third-seeded Delano 9-25, 25-21, 19-25, 21-25 in the semifinal on Friday. It was a devastating loss but the Orioles bounced back and played one of their best matches of the season against an Eden Prairie team that defeated state champion Eagan this season.
“We were very disappointed after our loss yesterday but we definitely wanted to come out to end our season with a win and to play together one last time,” senior Jackie Jones said. “It was really, really fun.”
The Orioles indeed played the way they did for most of the season – strong serving, good ball movement and a balanced attack. Tina Boe led Osseo with 13 kills, Hannah Pekarek had 12 kills and 23 digs, Jackie Jones added 10 kills and Shia Sanders 9. Megan Pekarek had 47 set assists.
“Today was more indicative of how we’ve played this season,” Osseo coach Bill Quan said. “There’s no nerves, the girls were loosey-goosey and just had fun out there. I am proud of the girls. They were very disappointed with the loss yesterday, but they woke up with a smile on their face knowing that they can be one of three teams in the state to end the season with a W. They were out there with some fire and excitement and they got it done.”
“We played as a team. We were having fun,” Jones said. “It was definitely Osseo volleyball.”
The Orioles did not bring their ‘A’ game to the semifinal against a talented and red-hot Delano squad and the result was only their second loss of the season. For most of the match, their passing, serving and hitting were all off. They had 16 serving errors in the match compared to three for Delano. Delano hit .322 to Osseo’s .182. That spelled bad news.
Jones led Osseo with 15 kills and Sanders had 12 and Hannah Pekarek and Tina Boe nine each.
“Delano is definitely one of the hottest teams in Minnesota. They had to beat Chaska to get here,” Quan said. “They have a two-time all-state player, a D I basketball player. They were good and they beat us. Did we beat ourselves a little bit? Yes. We missed 16 serves and made many mistakes so we beat ourselves a little bit. But Delano played a great match.”
Osseo also got off to a shaky start in the quarterfinal against Mayo but they pulled out game one 27-25 and went on to win 25-19, 25-18. Sanders led the way with 15 kills, Jones had 11 and Boe 10.
The Orioles finished a banner season with a 30-2 overall record, a conference and section championship and a third-place state trophy.
“It was an amazing senior season. I have the best teammates ever and it was just so fun all season,” Jones said. “I am definitely playing in college but there is nothing like high school season. I am going to miss it.”
Jones will graduate with Megan Pekarek, Touria Techam and Jazlynn Tanielu.
“My four seniors are awesome,” Quan said. “Just their leadership on and off the court. They are calm, they are confident. In my 12 years of head coaching, this is the best team chemistry I’ve ever had and it’s a testament to their senior leadership.”
The future of Osseo volleyball looks bright.
“We have a great nucleus coming back,” Quan said. “We have Shiah, Hannah, Tina and Emily coming back. That’s four pretty good offensive weapons to build around. Now we will need a little bit of ball control and a setter to get the ball to them. We have 10 months to work on that. We are happy with our one (state tournament), and we will work hard in the gym and hopefully we will get two in a row. We are going to enjoy this one here.”