Saturday’s Class 3A volleyball state championship match was something that will be remembered for a long time. If you were inside Xcel Energy Center watching Eagan and Champlin Park go at it hammer and tong in the final match of the volleyball season, you know what I’m talking about.
Here is a sample from my Twitter barrage during the match…
--I have been at every #mshsl state volleyball tournament for 15 years and I don't remember a crowd this large or a scene this exciting.
--Champlin Park sophomore Emma Schmidt goes up for a kill, senior teammate Sydney Hilley yells "Get on that!" Point Rebels.
--Timeout with Eagan leading 20-19 and the Champlin Park Show Band is playing Born to be Wild. This is fun. #mshsl
--Another timeout, Eagan leads Champlin Park 23-20 in first set. Eagan's big band playing We Are Family. Indeed we are. #mshsl
It was that kind of deal. Fun, exciting, thrilling. You get the idea.
The matchup was exactly what you want in a state title game. Eagan came in with a record of 30-1, and the Wildcats’ only loss was to Champlin Park in a tournament on the final day of the regular season. The Rebels were 31-2 with losses to Lakeville North and Hopkins.
Eagan came out on top this time, winning 3-1 to clinch its second consecutive championship and third in four years.
“It never gets old,” said Eagan coach Kathy Gillen. “Every tournament has a different feel and a different way to get to the finals.”
Gillen has been the Wildcats coach in two stints. She stepped down after 17 years in 2008 and returned before the 2011 season. She was inducted into the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014. Eagan won previous state titles in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2013 and 2015.
The Wildcats won the first set 25-20 Saturday before Champlin Park rallied to win the second set 25-17. The final two sets finished 25-21.
“It was a hard-fought match,” said Rebels coach John Yunker, whose team played in the championship game for the first time in school history. “We played them a couple weeks ago and it was very similar. They made a couple more plays than we did.
“Eagan’s a great team. They haven’t been challenged a whole lot this year because of their level of play.”
Each team was led by a player headed to a Big Ten volleyball team: Eagan’s Brie Orr will play at Iowa and the Rebels’ Hilley will go to Wisconsin.
Orr finished with 18 kills and 19 set assists, both team highs. Hilley, a force at the net, had a phenomenal 110 attacks and totaled 27 kills along with 18 digs.
“I didn’t even know I had that many swings,” Hilley said. “That’s a lot of swings. Every single time I took a swing they had a solid closed block. They got a lot of great touches on me.”Class 1A
Fifth place/ Underwood defeated Kimball 3-0
Third place/ Tracy-Milroy-Balaton defeated Heritage Christian 3-0
Championship/ Mayer Lutheran defeated Caledonia 3-1Class 1A Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team
Brenna Tinjum, Underwood; Bella Lien, Heritage Christian; Gabbie Gervais, Sydney Lanoue, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton; Madison Hucky, Olivia Tjernagel, Madi Beck, Mayer Lutheran; Madisyn Heaney, Adrianna Reinhart, Mariah Schroeder, Caledonia. Class 2A
Fifth place/ Morris/Chokio-Alberta defeated Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 3-1
Third place/ Kenyon-Wanamingo defeated Kasson-Mantorville 3-0
Championship/ Maple Lake defeated Concordia Academy 3-0Class 2A Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team
Karly Fehr, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta; Peyton Suess, Kasson-Mantorville; Mara Quam, Megan Flom, Kenyon-Wanamingo; Brooke Weichbrodt, Anika Neuman, Erin Fallert, Concordia Academy; Amber Klug, Linsey Rachel, Brynn Paumen, Maple Lake.Class 3A
Fifth place/ Prior Lake defeated Moorhead 3-1
Third place/ Lakeville South defeated Hopkins 3-0
Championship/ Eagan defeated Champlin Park 3-1Class 3A Wells Fargo All-Tournament Team
CC McGraw, Prior Lake; Jasmyn Martin, Hopkins; Jenny Mosser, Halle Johnston, Lakeville South; Sydney Hilley, Izzy Ashburn, Champlin Park; McKenna Melville, Taylor Olstad, Brie Orr, Alyssa Doucette, Eagan.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 258
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 4,788
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn