The recipe for Eden Prairie High School volleyball success is simple: Handle the serve receive, pass the ball and involve the middle.
“If we do what we want to do,” said Eden Prairie coach Chad Becker, “we can be pretty good.”
And oh yeah, Becker would prefer a reasonably fast start.
“A fast start would be good for our confidence,” he said.
On Thursday (today), Eden Prairie opens its season with a home match against Waconia.
Next Tuesday, the Eagles travel to Faribault for match with 1A power Faribault Bethlehem Academy. Next Thursday, Eden Prairie hosts Rogers.
“We’ve never started this early,” said Becker. “We announced our team on Friday. We have one more practice on Tuesday. We’ll scrimmage Wednesday and then play our first match.”
The good news is that Eden Prairie returns experience.
This starts with the return of setter Emma Martinson.
Its middle returns as well with Livia Hagberg and Kendlall Minta expected to carry the lion’s share of the load.
Abby Horn is expected to play both middle and outside.
“Most of our players can play multiple positions,” said Becker.
Eden Prairie’s starting outsides feature Emma O’Connell and Izzy Thorne.
As a testament to Becker’s comment on versatility, Thorne is transitioning from libero, where she played last year, to outside, where she subbed as a freshman.
“She just needs to take care of the ball,” said Becker. “When she has an opportunity, she has to put it away.”
As Thorne moves from libero to outside, Mallory Madson moves from junior varsity to libero.
“She’s ready,” said the coach.
Keys to success: “Pass and defend,” said Becker.
With the expansion of the Lake Conference to include Buffalo and Saint Michael-Albertville, Becker doesn’t know what to expect.
“Minnetonka, Edina and Wayzata all lost a lot to graduation,” he said. “Hopkins has some players, but they’re young. Minnetonka’s junior varsity was good so I’d expect them to reload.
“If I remember right, Saint Michael was pretty strong last year,” he added. “Maybe they’ll contend.”
Predicting section favorites is a tougher task.
“Shakopee had good depth last year,” said Becker. “I heard Prior Lake was young, but we didn’t see them at all.”
“Keep our middles involved,” said Becker, “and I like our chances.”