Action on the Main court at the Breakdown's first annual Side Out Classic at Hopkins' Lindbergh Center features another big-school tusslle between a team that's looking to become an annual state tournament contender (Champlin Park) and a team that's been in just that position recently (Roseville).
"We return the largest number of varsity players in the past four seasons," said Champlin Park coach John Yunker, who is looking for his Rebels to improve on last year's 24 victories, despite graduation losses. Champlin Park has one of the top young players in the state in sophomore Sydney Hilley, who has already earned All-American status and verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin. She's a dynamic setter who can also hit and finished with great all-around numbers as a freshman. Also keep an eye on junior middle Janae Alderson, a terrific athlete, and senior setter Brenna Walton.
"While we have to replace four strong seniors, we have some younger players that had very big impacts last season and should be even better this year with another year of club volleyball," said Yunker. "We will be focusing on ball control and defense as our strengths. The team had its best record in many seasons and took a big step forward. We hope to continue that this season, but we know that we play in a very tough conference and section."
Roseville continues to churn out top teams and this fall should be no different. The Raiders have made two state tournament trips in the last three years and their veteran leaders were part of those runs. All-State middle Monica Burich is a University of Colorado basketball commit whose athleticism transfers well to volleyball. Libero Haley Kauth is just a junior, but has already started for four years and was the team defensive MVP. And setter Bre Maloney is only a sophomore, but set records for single-game and season set assists last year. Add in senior outside hitter Nina Carmichael-Tanaka and others and the Raiders are loaded.
"We return most of our key contributors from last season and are eager to build on our last few seasons of success," said coach Greg Ueland. "Our team strengths will center around strong passing, defense, and serving. We also have a varied offense that allows many players to get involved. In order for our team to have success, we need to play with a high level of confidence and do the volleyball fundamentals very well. We also need to develop more offensive firepower and weapons."
Why Champlin Park will win:
Why Roseville will win:
Our pick: Roseville in four.