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Side Out Preview: Prior Lake vs. Chanhassen

By Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports USA, 08/20/14, 4:45PM CDT


3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 23 at Hopkins' Lindbergh Center Main court


Could this be a preview of the Section 2AAA championship match? It's possible with both Prior Lake and Chanhassen expected to be strong contenders this year in what may be the toughest section in the state (after all, Chaska and Delano are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in our preseason poll). If either team is to make a run, a quick start at the Side Out Classic would certainly help.

Expectations for Chanhassen this year are high even with graduating five seniors, two of whom were excellent starting setters.

"We have some talented underclassmen joining our this years senior leaders which creates a recipe for success," said coach Mike Domeier, whose team won 18 matches in his first season with the Storm. "Along with the sacrifices they girls are willing to make for the success of the team." 

The Storm's offense (and defense, for that matter) will revolve around senior outside hitter Danielle Gitzen, a terrific athlete who is just as good on the basketball court in the winter — she's committed to Missouri State for hoops. She plays in all six rotations and is key to the team's serve-receive as well as attack. Libero Taylor Soine is another back row key, as the Concordia-St. Paul commit gives the Storm two great passers. Senior outside hitter Anna Zahn is a fine option, with more than 260 kills and digs each last fall. 

Prior Lake has a great balance of talent across its grade levels, something that should provide the Lakers with sustained success under coach Mike Dean. Last fall, Prior Lake won 23 matches and begins this year as a top-10 ranked team.

Senior libero Brittany Luethmers anchors the back row for the Lakers and will make it tough for Gitzen and Zahn to earn kills. She's quick, aggressive and knows the lay of the court. Prior Lake also has a good trio of outside hitters in juniors Lara Schultz and Ella Francis and freshman Caroline McGraw.


Why Prior Lake will win:

  • Luethmers is a veteran who will provide a great presence in the serve-receive game.
  • The Lakers have a good balance of hitters who will keep Chanhassen from focusing its block on any one player in particular.

Why Chanhassen will win:

  • Gitzen is the most athletic player on either team and can single-handedly take over a match. She's a one-person momentum creator.
  • Two of the better liberos in the state go head-to-head and Soine comes out on top of Luethmers.

Our pick: Chanhassen in five.

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