Maple Lake senior hitter Brynn Paumen spoke for everybody on the team after the Irish completed an undefeated volleyball season with a repeat title Saturday, defeating North Branch 3-0 in the Class 2A state championship match at Xcel Energy Center.
“I think it’s super difficult. It’s almost unheard of,” she said. “It’s amazing. It’s something that’s not common, I’m sure. I’m glad we ended the way we did.”
Difficult. Unheard of. Amazing. Yes, yes and yes. The Irish capped a 36-0 season and will begin the 2018 campaign riding an overall 44-game winning streak dating to last year. Amazing.
“I think every game was a challenge because we won state the previous year,” Brynn said. “Every single team we played this year brought their best game each time.”
That was sure the case Saturday. North Branch (29-4) has a high-powered offense led by dynamic 5-foot-10 sophomore Cianna Selbitschka, who is thunderous at the net. She had 14 kills in 49 attempts as the Maple Lake front line barricaded the hitting zones with 20 fingers at a crack, with a second line of defense that was all over the court.
“They were real efficient at closing the block and penetrating over the net,” Vikings coach Mike Selbitschka said. “When we did get around the block, they were really good at digging. We knew we had to find some type of fingers and it wasn’t going to be many fingers, but we had to have balls ricochet around the court. Kudos to them, they are a very well-coached team, a real defensive team. They do not let balls hit the floor.”
Linsey Rachel had 20 kills and 11 digs for the Irish, Amber Klug had 17 assists and Ella Kiebel had 14 assists. Mollie Scheiber had 10 digs. North Branch’s Haley Hadrava had 27 assists and Katelyn Berg had 12 digs.Big Hands And 3-0 Sweeps For Crusaders
Mayer Lutheran, which lost only nine sets all season, swept through the Class 1A state tournament with a trio of 3-0 victories, culminating with a 3-0 victory over Minneota in the championship round.
After her team won back-to-back titles (and the school’s third championship overall), coach Joelle Grimsley was asked to describe her feelings.
“Awesome. A relief. A huge relief. I’m proud,” was how she summed it up.
The Crusaders (32-2) were dominant at the net, with an attack percentage of .393 to Minneota’s .079. Mayer Lutheran’s block had a lot to do with what Minneota was unable to do.
“We talked a lot about blocking schemes last night and today; big, huge hands,” Grimsley said.
Madi Beck (17), Sophia Heuer (13) and Madison Hucky (13) combined for 40 of Mayer Lutheran’s 49 kills. Hucky added 27 assists, Heuer had 19 digs and Lauren Wandersee had 19 assists. For Minneota, Lydia Sussner had 13 kills, Morgan Kockelman had 26 assists and Abby Hennen had 18 digs.
Mayer Lutheran’s only defeats this season came against Eagan and Maple Lake, which played for state titles in their classes. The Crusaders roster is heavy with seniors who contributed to two state championships. The story is a little different for Minneota, which will lose only one senior (Jennifer Krog) from the state runner-up team. Lakeville North Was ‘Super Prepared’
What’s past is not prologue, especially in athletics. Eagan had defeated Lakeville North twice during the regular season without losing a set, but the Panthers only looked ahead, not behind, before Saturday’s Class 3A state championship match.
The result was a 3-1 victory for Lakeville North (31-2) over the defending state champion Wildcats (30-2). North won the first set 25-20, Eagan took the second set 25-21, and it was all North after that, 25-20 and 25-23. The Wildcats could get nothing going on a night when they didn’t play their best and North did.
“We were super prepared,” said North senior Elizabeth Juhnke. “Everyone walked in and bought in. We were going 100 percent the whole time, not giving up on a single ball. It was just relentless defense.”
Eagan coach Kathy Gillen, whose team played in its fifth consecutive title match, said, “If we played each other 10 times we might split 5-5, or maybe 6-4. And it’s tough to beat a team three times. I’ve always said that. They just played loose and fun and we played very reserved, timid.”
Juhnke, a 6-foot hitter who can jump and pound, had 24 kills for North, 15 digs and 36 serve receives. Macy Winter had 10 kills, Amelia Wherland had 26 assists and Amanda Burger 21 assists. Eagan senior McKenna Melville (playing in her final high school game for her mom/coach) had 14 kills and 17 digs. Ninth-grader Kennedi Orr, who has already committed to the University of Nebraska, had 13 kills and 18 assists. Kelley Johnson had 19 assists.Tournament Tidbits
--Sweetest Moment: After Wadena-Deer Creek lost to Bethlehem Academy in the Class 1A third-place match, senior Casey Volkmann embraced her coach in a tear-filled hug. Her coach is also her mother, Sue Volkmann.
--Heard from an exuberant fan: “C’mon girls, shake it off! Give ‘em the business!”Wells Fargo All-Tournament Teams
Ellianna Wiertsema, New Life Academy; Meredith Sutton, Cook County; Casey Volkmann, Wadena-Deer Creek; Mary Campbell, Bethlehem Academy; Lydia Sussner, Morgan Kockelman, Natalee Rolbiecki, Minneota; Madi Beck, Madison Hucky, Sophie Heuer, Mayer Lutheran.Class 2A:
Peyton Suess, Kasson-Mantorville; Emma Benz, Ellie Koontz, Holy Angels; Cianni Selbitschka, Sophie Linder, Haley Hadrava, North Branch; Brynn Paumen, Amber Klug, Linsey Rachel, Mollie Scheiber, Maple Lake.Class 3A:
Izzy Ashburn, Sami Hilley, Champlin Park; CC McGraw, Maddy Bremer, Prior Lake; Macy Winter, Elizabeth Juhnke, Kennedy Brady, Lakeville North; Ellie Husemann, Kennedi Orr, McKenna Melville, Eagan.Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn State Volleyball Tournament
At Xcel Energy Center
Fifth place: New Life Academy defeated Cook County 3-0
Third place: Bethlehem Academy defeated Wadena-Deer Creek 3-0
Championship: Mayer Lutheran defeated Minneota 3-0Class 2A
Fifth place: Kasson-Mantorville defeated Roseau 3-0
Third place: Holy Angels defeated Marshall 3-0
Championship: Maple Lake defeated North Branch 3-0Class 3A
Fifth place: Champlin Park defeated Hopkins 3-0
Third place: Prior Lake defeated Moorhead 3-0
Championship: Lakeville North defeated Eagan 3-1