Wayzata senior volleyball players Kate Berg, Morgan Baufield and Kenzie Groechel have been playing together for nearly a decade. With the exception of their first year of volleyball — Berg and Baufield started a year before Groechel — the three close friends have developed a volleyball narrative that is incomplete without each other.
Together, they have built a foundation that has Wayzata coach Scott Jackson thinking this could be a special year for the Trojans — on par with 2009 and 2010, when they finished as Class 3A runners-up in consecutive years.
“They’re very strong players who make each other, and the team, better,” Jackson said. “It’s nice to have a trio of players as competitive, as hungry, as they are. I wouldn’t trade them for anybody.”
Typical coach-speak? Not by a long shot.
Jackson runs the Minnesota Select Volleyball Club and coached an elite team over the summer that included such highly regarded players as Champlin Park’s Sydney Hilley and Lakeville South’s Jenny Mosser.
“That means a lot,” Berg said. “It builds your confidence to hear that.”
What makes the three of them so strong is that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Each excels at a different part of the game. Berg is a dynamic outside hitter who recorded her 1,000th career kill earlier this season. As a middle blocker, Baufield can will the Trojans to victory. Groechel is a setter who is as tough as a Minnesota winter.
“We’re best friends who love playing together,” Berg said. “We just have a great vibe with each other.”
Said Baufield: “Every team develops strong relationships, but I think ours is unique. It’s something special that others don’t have.”
It’s not just on-court skill that makes them stand out. They bring a wealth of experience and a level of comfort to the rest of the team that allows Jackson and his assistants to spend less time teaching and more time coaching.
“They know each other so well that they’re kind of like coaches on the court,” Jackson said. “There’s a buy-in level from them that carries over to the rest of the team. They have confidence in themselves and each other and that helps the younger players feel confident, too.”
While they play club volleyball on the same team, they agree that the high school season instills a level of passion that the club season cannot match.
“To play on the big varsity court, with all of the fans cheering you on, there’s an excitement level that is so much fun,” Groechel said. “I love high school volleyball.”
They have one season left to play together before their roads diverge toward different colleges. Berg will play at Minnesota Duluth next year, Baufield at Northern State, and Groechel perhaps not at all.
They have reached the section final for each of the past three seasons but have yet to play in a state tournament.
“It would be nice to play in a state tournament,” Baufield said. “It’s our last year together, so that’s the plan.”