Nine wins in 12 matches, Minnetonka is there in 2019. Yet there's work to be where the program was in 2018.

A season in which the Skippers went 22-4 in the regular season, finishing with 24 wins, one shy of the program's first trip back to the state tournament since 1976.

It's a work-in-progress with two rotational players in the front row and a dedicated server in the back row back.

There's going to be moments where Minnetonka feels it can do it all. They were champions for the third straight year at the Pudas Invitational in Eden Prairie, winning five matches all by 2-0 scores.

Then there's moments where Minnetonka needs a bit more. The Skippers were beaten in four-game losses to two of top contenders in Section 2AAA in Shakopee and Prior Lake.

"We're finally getting to the point that everything is working together. If we keep working together, figuring out things together, we're going to be really good this season," Minnetonka sophomore hitter Abby Stanwood said.

Stanwood watched the magic unfold from the bench last year. This year, she's part of the next group that is looking to replicate that, keeping Minnetonka at the top.

"I'm excited to play with the team. Our team is doing so great this year. We definitely lost a lot of seniors from last year and I think that's been our biggest struggle in rebuilding the team. Going into the season I'm just going to put my best on the court and work as a team together," she said.

In-system attacks from Stanwood and returning top hitter Skyler Germann propelled Minnetonka to a 3-1 win over Chanhassen on Sept. 10.

Beaten in game one, 25-20, the Skippers finished off a tight game two, 25-22, before pulling away 25-16 and 25-17.

"Definitely energy. We struggled in the first game to get our talking together and work as a team. We were working as six individuals. Once we got it together we definitely got it up there," Stanwood said.

After rallying from seven points down to tie the match at 20 in game two, Chanhassen struggled to find consistent offense, finishing with just 45 earned points out of 80 scored.

The Storm had 24 hitting errors to 33 kills. Katie Paine and Lauren Snader were held to nine and seven kills, respectively. Annabelle Nordmeyer finished with 31 assists and two of the team's five aces.

Madison Ellman (25 digs), and Katie and Hannah Paine (14 and 12 digs) were diving around the court for Chanhassen's defense, attempting to slow Stanwood and Germann.

Beyond this week, Minnetonka is at Bloomington Jefferson Sept. 12 and at the five-team Chanhassen Invitational Sept. 14, the majority of the Skippers' remaining schedule is against Lake schools.

Minnetonka players, returning or new to varsity, have one goal in mind there. Repeat.

"We want that conference championship again. We're definitely not letting that go. We're going to keep pushing and hopefully get to state," Stanwood said.

Chanhassen (4-5) hosts Bloomington Kennedy for youth night at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12.

DELASALLE 3, HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC 1

Abby Smith returned to the front row for Holy Family Catholic, recording a team-high 13 kills in a 3-1 loss at DeLaSalle Sept. 10.

The Fire won the first game 25-22 before the Islanders rallied 25-20, 25-18, 25-17.

Holy Family Catholic also got nine kills from Sophia Mackey and six kills from Tatum Hussey. Kathryn Jans finished with 31 set assists.

Mackey (3) and Smith (2) led Holy Family at the serving line, a total of nine aces.

Smith and Mackey were also defensive leaders with 21 and 18 digs, respectively.

Holy Family Catholic (0-8) hosts Belle Plaine on Monday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.

SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN 3, LE SUEUR-HENDERSON 0

It certainly wasn't easy as Southwest Christian improved to 2-0 in the Minnesota River Conference, scoring a 25-23, 30-28, 25-14 road win at Le Sueur-Henderson Sept. 10.

Estelle Haugen finished with 15 kills with Madeleine Lemkuil in double figures with 12 kills for the Stars, now 5-4 overall.

Felicia Luther totaled 34 set assists with Lemkuil, Luther and Mackenzie Close each serving two aces.

Haugen was team leader with 11 digs followed by Jayna Bredenberg (nine), Lemkuil (eight), and Marissa Agrimson (eight).

Southwest Christian is at Belle Plaine at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12.

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