For first matches, Thursday's 25-14, 25-8, 25-17 sweep of Mankato West for the Northfield volleyball team left little for its coach, Tim Torstenson, to critique or nitpick.
Against last year's second-place team in the Big 9 Conference, the Class AAA No. 6-ranked Raiders started their quest of a fourth straight conference crown without needing to do anything particularly extraordinary.
"I think we did a lot of things good tonight for it being our first match," Torstenson said. "I was really happy with almost every aspect of our game. I thought our serve-receive was good, we got a lot of side outs on our first ball, which is what we always strive for. I thought our offense was on fire tonight. All of our hitters hit well tonight."
That offensive success flowed through a fresh face for Northfield, which entered the season with a big hole in its lineup at setter. With the Raiders utilizing a one-setter offensive system, they require a steady and reliable option to utilize the deep stable of offensive weapons.
So far, so good, with sophomore Teagan Timperley playing every point Thursday night and finishing with 31 of Northfield's 33 assists while helping six different players pick up a kill.
"Teagan in her first match as a varsity setter for us, she did a great job distributing it well to all the hitters and she knew who was hot," Torstenson said.
Timperley's options for distribution on the outside were plentiful. Headlining that group are a pair of future Division I hitters in seniors Megan Reilly (Arizona State) and Rachel Wieber (Southern Utah). Reilly finished her night with 10 kills, while Wieber traveled the entirety of the court to finish with five kills and five digs.
They both played two of the three sets Thursday night to allow for a third option, sophomore Sydney Jaynes, to also play a pair of sets on the outside.
Jaynes, who Torstenson predicts is another future D1 product, is blocked by senior libero Emma Torstenson (a University of Colorado commit) at the position she plays exclusively at club. So, in search of varsity playing time until Emma Torstenson graduates, Jaynes has migrated outside.
Thursday night, she finished with 10 kills and only two hitting errors.
"We have three really good outside hitters," Tim Torstenson said. "Two of them are D1 and Sydney is going to be D1 as a libero, but she grew a few inches this past year and it helps when we have girls that play libero at their club and then they come here. Outsides are natural passers anyway, so it just makes us even stronger. Syd, for not hitting in club all year, she's come out swinging."
Last year, Jaynes filled in some on the outside when Wieber was forced to miss time with a shin injury. With her newfound height, however, Jaynes has grown into a much more dangerous offensive outlet this year.
Eventually, Torstenson will settle on a more steady rotation for his outside hitters, but until then, those three will continue to split time, including Saturday's trip to play at Mankato East.