The talent-filled Shakopee Invite proved to be a big challenge for a Rosemount volleyball team missing three contributing seniors due to ACT testing.

The Irish came away from the weekend 1-3 with their lone win coming against Forest Lake after their seniors returned to the lineup. They opened with two-set losses to a Rochester Mayo team that qualified for state last year and to sixth-ranked Shakopee, and then closed out the tournament with a 2-0 loss to top-ranked (Class 1A) Bethlehem Academy.

“We went into Saturday’s tournament at Shakopee knowing we needed to play well as the competition was strong,” Rosemount coach Smokey Vitek said. “However, we did not bring our game. We struggled with intensity, effort and consistency throughout the tournament.”

The Irish lost to Rochester Mayo 25-17. 25-23 in their first match Saturday morning. The loss set the tone for the day as the team struggled with serve receive, passing and defense.

“Those things are our bread and butter and they were just not there,” Vitek said. “We struggled to pass in system balls which impeded our ability to get the ball to our middle hitters.”

The back row struggles continued against Shakopee’s talented offense in the second match of the day. The Irish ended up losing 25-16 and 25-20.

With the lineup back to full strength, the Irish rolled by Forest Lake 25-19 and 25-10 Saturday afternoon.

“They brought some renewed energy to the court and consistency to our ball control. Our serve receive and defense were much better, allowing us to run a more effective offense,” Vitek said. “Strong defense also triggers court energy. It was nice to see the team back in good rhythm with good effort and chemistry.”

Jenna Grutzmacher led the Irish with nine kills in the win. Ashley Hahnfeldt added six and Shae Buchman put down five.

Mari Hinkle paced the defense with 13 digs and Sarah Husaby added nine. Setter Madi Mackinac sent up 31 assists.

The Irish played better in their final match of the day, but couldn’t keep pace with 1A powerhouse Bethlehem Academy in a 25-19, 25-20 loss.

Vitek said despite the team’s struggles, she saw one big positive: the improved play of her outside attackers. She was pleased to see more consistency and effectiveness from the likes of Buchman, Hinkle and Grutzmacher, and continued smart play from Kaity McLean and Anna Wise.

Vitek also credited Emily Udermann with a strong day on both offense and defense, and said Hinkle and Morgan Longhenry both made big contributions defensively.

The Irish resumed South Suburban Conference play Tuesday at Lakeville North. They are back at Irish Gym tonight to take on Eastview.