Eight of Class 3A’s top-9 volleyball teams competed in last weekend’s Apple Valley Invitational.
Unranked Eden Prairie finished 2-2.
“We’ll take it,” said Eden Prairie coach Chad Becker.
He then changed his mind, kind of.
“We’re struggling at starting matches,” he said, “even the ones we’re winning.
“When you start slow like that,” he added, “it puts you behind the eight ball.”
Translation: Becker's Eagles can be better.
On Friday, Eden Prairie opened tournament play with a 25-14, 25-17 loss to No. 5-ranked East Ridge.
“While East Ridge is a good team, I thought it was a winnable match,” said Becker. “We started slow and never gave ourselves a chance.”
Eden Prairie would rebound with a 27-25, 25-11 win over Apple Valley.
On Saturday, Eden Prairie beat Prior Lake 2-1 (25-27, 25-15, 15-12) before falling 2-0 (25-16, 25-19) to No. 7-ranked Shakopee.
“We dropped the first set in our win over Prior Lake and then started slow again against Shakopee,” said Becker.
“Identifying the problem is one thing,” said the coach, “fixing it is another.
”I don't think the answer comes from the coaches,” he added. “They'll have to figure it out on their own.”
The coach then offered a suggestion: “Believe in yourself and trust your teammates,” he said.
Becker said setter Emma Martinson has been doing a good job balancing the Eagles' offense.
Izzy Thorne has made the transition from libero to outside hitter.
“She's had some good swings and she's been efficient,” said Becker.
Livia Hagberg, Kendall Minta and Abby Horn have made for a solid middle.
“They've all been productive,” said the coach.
On Tuesday, Eden Prairie was scheduled to host a Saint Michael-Albertville team that just fell 3-2 to No. 3-ranked Wayzata.
On Thursday (today), Eden Prairie travels to No. 10-ranked Minnetonka.
Next week, Eden Prairie travels to Wayzata.
“We know our schedule gets tougher down the stretch,” said Becker, “and that's OK. We just have to embrace the challenge.”