It’s rare a team riding a five-match losing streak gets a first-round bye and a home game in the section tournament, but that just shows how difficult the Rosemount volleyball team’s schedule was over the final two weeks of the regular season.

Despite their 3-0 loss to No. 1-ranked Eagan in last Tuesday’s regular season finale, the Irish still earned the No. 4 seed in Section 3AAA and a home game Thursday against the winner of the match between Eastview and South St. Paul. A victory would give them another shot at the top-ranked Wildcats in next week’s semifinals.

“Our road to state is never easy, but I think we are ready to battle,” Rosemount coach Smokey Vitek said. “Hopefully the MEA weekend will help us rest up and get healthy.”

The Irish weren’t rested up or healthy when they lost to Eagan 20-25, 13-25, 16-25 last Tuesday. It was their fourth match against a state-ranked opponent in their last five matches and several key players were battling illnesses. Not surprisingly, the team’s energy sagged over the final two sets.

“We started well in the first set and stayed with them, but in sets two and three we struggled,” Vitek said. “Our defense was slow and we did not serve well. Against a team like Eagan you have to serve aggressively to limit their offense and we did not do that.”

The Irish committed just two service errors in 51 attempts, but had no ace serves.

Ashley Hahnfelt led the Irish front row with eight kills and Jenna Grutzmacher was right behind with seven. Shae Buchman and Emily Udermann added five apiece.

Katie Lienemann led the defense with 13 digs. Mari Hinkle and Madi Mackinac added 10 apiece. Mackinac also sent up 26 set assists.

The Irish take a 13-14 record into the section tournament. They finished fifth at 4-5  in the tough South Suburban Conference behind No. 1 Eagan, No. 2 Lakeville South, No. 4 Prior Lake and No. 9 Lakeville North.