The future is now for the Faribault volleyball team.
The Falcons return the entire roster from last year’s 13-14 team and will have five returning seniors who dressed for the varsity team.
Near the top of the list of those returners are all-conference selections Payton Evenstad, Hanna Cunniff and Bennett Wolfe. Cunniff returns as the team’s libero while Evenstad and Wolfe split time as the team’s setter and hitters.
“This year or the last couple of years have definitely been growing years for a young team with young players,” Faribault head coach JoAnna Lane said.
Evenstad and Cunniff have played on the varsity team since their freshman year and Wolfe is returning after missing most of the season after tearing her meniscus.
The Falcons went 8-18 two years ago and went 19-8 three years ago, falling in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals to Rochester Century.
Lane will welcome back Wolfe, who is a difference maker on the court, especially as the team’s middle hitter.
“Bennett, when she was on, she was the key,” Lane said. “When we were able to get the ball in the middle, we were successful. When we didn’t have her on the court it changed the team dynamics because she was the glue that held everything together.”
Payton Ross, another returning junior, served as one of the team’s four captains last year and will return after dealing with a torn rotator cuff.
Five juniors and four sophomores will likely find a spot on the varsity roster in the fall.
The powers of the Big 9 Conference will likely be the same. Northfield ran a perfect season in conference play and will return many of the pieces that have keyed a three-year reign as the conference champion. Rochester Mayo and Mankato West each finished with 9-2 records while the Falcons finished tied with Rochester John Marshall and Winona with 7-4 records.
“It’s anybody’s game,” Lane said. “There are a lot of us who were right in the middle.”
Gyms are still off limits until July 15 but in the meantime, Lane will hold a boot camp with team members to help prepare them for the fall season, though there cannot be any shared equipment, so no volleyballs.
“I’m hoping to pick up right where we left off,” Lane said.
Last season ended in the first round of the Section 1AAA playoffs in a 3-1 loss to Rochester Century.