Wayzata volleyball coach Scott Jackson can be demanding of his players at times, even raising his voice in practice.
But with a team as talented as the Trojans, he rarely has reason to do so.
Wayzata took what was expected to be a donnybrook of a Class 4A championship match and turned it into the latest statement on Trojans excellence, sweeping Lakeville North 26-24, 25-12, 25-23 in Xcel Energy Center to win their third consecutive state title.
Wayzata began the season with a well-publicized 54-match winning streak. Perfection rarely lasts, however, and the Trojans, who had lost 10 seniors from their 2021 championship team, dropped a few matches.
Four to be exact. A minimal number, the sort most programs long for, but Wayzata had gone nearly three years without losing even a single match. Adversity, as minor as it was, had found the Trojans.
They didn’t shy away from it. They embraced it, knowing the losses would make them stronger.
“Of course it’s Wayzata volleyball and we have high standards for ourselves,” senior libero Sophia Johnson said. “Losing 10 seniors, we went into the season with some uncertainty, but we faced adversity and really rose.”
The Class 4A final was expected to be the climax of a highly competitive state tournament in which all four No. 1 seeds and three No. 2 seeds made the finals.
Lakeville North, which had spent a significant portion of the season ranked No. 1, used its athleticism and quick offense to battle the tall, talented and consistent Trojans point for point in the first half.
Wayzata pulled out the first-set victory 26-24, closing it out with back-to-back kills from junior outside hitter Olivia Swenson.
That set the stage for the best of Wayzata in the second set. Stella Swenson took on dual roles as a setter and a hitter, handling both with aplomb. The Trojans dug ferociously, blocked strong and tall and made nary an error in pulling out a 25-12 victory.
“The thing we did better than we’ve done all year long was play defense,” Jackson said. “Three sets, 74 digs and four kids had 10 and another had nine. That’s fantastic defense.”
With Wayzata playing so well, Lakeville North setter Ava Blascziek said her team’s goal was simply to stay in system. “That’s harder on the big stage,” she said. “That got the best of us in the big moment.”
Often, the superb Swenson sisters get the kudos when Wayzata wins, but there were plenty of other key contributors to Saturday’s victory. Avery Jesewitz had 10 kills, second to Olivia Swenson’s team-leading 14. And lefthanded hitter Kaitlyn Vogt added nine and was a thorn in Lakeville North’s side all match.
Jackson knew Vogt would be key to the Trojans’ chances and that they needed to run their offense to isolate her. He made that point very sharply to Stella Swenson in practice the day before.
“It was probably the only time I yelled at her all year,” Jackson said, laughing.