Brie Orr worked off her nervous energy the best way she knew how on the eve of the first practice of her final high school girls’ volleyball season.
The Eagan senior standout grabbed a volleyball and began setting back and forth with her younger sister, Kennedi, in the living room of the family’s home last Sunday night. The walls, spotted with white splotches, show signs of Orr’s self-soothing attempts, though she couldn’t recall if the sisters had ever broken a lamp or other furniture. Her parents, Lorenzo and Gretchen, are used to the dinged-up walls after six years of Orr playing at the varsity level, the past four at Eagan.
“It doesn’t seem like I should be super nervous, but I’m just like super excited for the change, I guess,” Orr said during Monday’s first practice and tryout. “All of us are super excited to finally be back. There’s been a countdown going for the first day of tryouts and the first game.”
Orr helped the coaching staff lead the first three days of tryouts by keeping the gymnasium full of girls on task and showing the newcomers how to run drills and be a good teammate.
The setter is used to the leadership role after co-captaining the Wildcats to a Class 3A state championship last season and is expected to lead a solid returning core this season. Eagan returns everyone from last year’s rotation, and the chemistry was obvious on the court during the first day of practice.
“We have a similar team as last year, but we have more of a connection because of last year,” Orr said.
The Wildcats finished 28-4, winning their second state championship in the past three seasons. They’ve appeared in the past three Class 3A title games.
Coach Kathy Gillen said the championship run was anything but a slam dunk, and even a little lucky. That luck, though, might be better described as Brie Orr’s consistent ability to come through when the team needed her most.
Orr helped lead the way past Rosemount in a five-set victory in the Section 3 championship game. Then, in the fifth set of the state championship game, Orr stepped forward to propel the Wildcats to victory.
“In the championship match, we were about to lose and Brie came up with one of the biggest blocks of the year,” Gillen said. “She rises to the level of competition and urgency and takes her team with her.
“Brie has the game savvy that you can’t take off the floor.”
Orr finished the title game with 31 assists, 16 kills, 12 digs and two blocks.
The All-Metro setter and three-time all-tournament honoree carried the momentum into the offseason, when she earned All-America honors while playing with Northern Lights volleyball club.
The way Orr and fellow captains Alyssa Doucette and McKenna Melville lead is just as impressive as their ability to make plays, Gillen said. The trio has helped raise Kennedi Orr to play a big role on varsity as a middle-schooler. Kennedi made the team as a 12-year-old seventh-grader last year and is expected to play a bigger role this year. Like her older sister, Kennedi is on track to become one of the best players in the state, Gillen said.
“I’ve been watching her since I was 5, and she’s come very far in her life,” Kennedi raved about her older sister. “It’s just really cool to watch her grow and take parts from her game that I can use in mine.”
Orr is on schedule to graduate from high school in December and begin her college career at Iowa in January. Before she leaves behind a successful prep career, though, she has another title on her mind.
“I love the high school season. It’s like my favorite thing ever,” Orr said. “So I’m excited to spend the rest of my school year in fall volleyball and then have a break and go to college. But I’m excited for this [season] more than anything.”