You never want to go into a match thinking “this one is going to be easy”, that’s what upsets and let downs are made of. However, the Lakeville North volleyball team Tuesday night made things look easy against Apple Valley in a 3-0 win.
It’s no secret the Eagles, while talented in their own right, are not in the same category of competition the Panthers are accustomed to facing. North head coach Steve Willingham knew the Eagles defense would pose a challenge to his squad and it did.
You can’t say the Eagles ever went down in a game without fight. One might argue that the hopefulness was fleeting over the course of the evening.
The Panthers came out firing in game one. Dominating in nearly every category, issues only surfacing with a couple of mishits and service errors. Looking at game one though, no one would really say that any of their issues were glaring.
The Panthers were showing the attitude and the confidence you’d expect to see out of the defending state champions. Something that we certainly didn’t see last Thursday against Bloomington Jefferson. Lakeville North would go up 1-0 on Apple Valley with a decisive 25-14 win that would set the tone for the rest of the evening.25-18
Game two was a little bit different. Errors surfaced early for the Panthers and neither side could really get any momentum going.
Last Thursday the Panthers were plagued by mental breakdowns that just wouldn’t stop. Coach Willingham’s squad couldn’t get out of holes that they put themselves into and it was ultimately their demise, losing in three.
Any Panther volleyball fan watching Tuesday night’s game from Apple Valley high school, probably found themselves in that same spot. Waiting for the breakdown.
That wasn’t the case however, as the Panthers stuck it out despite their own mistakes and found a way to take game two over the Eagles 25-20. Apple Valley never looked like they had Lakeville North’s number, but could’ve stolen the game.
“If we had a couple unforced errors we were able to get a stop on the next play,” states Panther coach Steve Willingham following the match, “I got to give credit to our serve receive…I thought we really controlled their serves.”
That control, allowed the Panthers to build things up heading into the third game, ultimately the final. Heading into game three Lakeville North All-American Alyssa Goehner was at 12 kills.
“I think Alyssa has a lot of confidence in her shots and her ability to hit around the block,” says Coach Willingham.
The Eagles put up two on Alyssa, as most teams do, but to no avail. Alyssa would finish with 19 kills along with two service aces and the Panthers took game three 25-18.
Ultimately, the Panthers proved Tuesday night that they can beat the teams that they are supposed to beat. Not without their fair share of mistakes. Things that need to be ironed out before the playoffs begin in two weeks. Especially with Shakopee coming to town Thursday.