9 a.m. — Eastview vs. Edina
Eastview suffered through a tough sub-.500 season a year ago, but now welcomes on board new coach Ryan Dehnel, formerly of St. Michael-Albertville, and a fresh start. Returning veterans such as senior setter Erica Slinde and OH Kati Quaintance, and junior MH Leah Melchior should provide stability, while freshman RH Lauren Crowl is an exciting young talent on the rise.
Edina also has a new coach in Nicolle Higley, so it will be interesting to see how the two teams' systems play out in this one. The Hornets have a terrific right-side hitter in San Diego-bound Lauren Turner, who will get fed by setter Ella Haugen. Junior OH Christine Graf is also a top talent who should have a big year.
Our pick: Eastview in five.
11 a.m. — Osseo vs. Waconia
Osseo coach Mandi Burian begins her third season with the Orioles with high expectations, despite graduating a good senior class anchored by All-State hitter Tina Boe. The Orioles must rebuild their attack, although junior OH/MH Kate Achenbach should be a key in that. Sophomore libero Taylor Quan is a steady force in the back row.
Waconia returns a host of good setters and passers, led by senior Danielle Pioske and sophomore Kali Wolf, each of whom had more than 200 kills and digs last fall. The Wildcats will need to replace both setters (Kalista Jager and Taylor Wolf), who graduated after leading them to 24 wins a year ago.
Our pick: Waconia in four.
1 p.m. — Minnetonka vs. Moorhead
Minnetonka also has the tough task of replacing longtime setter Isabelle Aragon-Menzel, who had started since eighth grade for coach Karl Katzenberger. But she was just part of a huge 10-player senior class that led the way. Now it's up to the young Skippers and senior MH Katelyn Lannom.
Moorhead, on the other hand, does have several key veterans returning coming off a state tournament berth. Setter Kortney Carney and OH Lexi Gilbertson are three-year letter winners and among the top players in Section 8AAA. Juniors Brooke Carney and Brooke Walthall also are returning starters.
Our pick: Moorhead in four.
3 p.m. — Blaine vs. Rosemount
Blaine graduated much of its lineup from an 18-win season, but coach Celeste Gorman doesn't expect a down year. Of course, returning seniors hitters Isabella Erne and Aleaha Mokamba certainly helps buoy the Bengals' prospects.
Rosemount should have a good passing and setting team, with the return of libero Marissa Hinkle (committed to UCLA) and senior setter Maddie Mackinac. Finding top hitting options will be key for coach Smokey Vitek.
Our pick: Rosemount in five.
5 p.m. — Champlin Park vs. Stillwater
Yes, Champlin Park did graduate Miss Volleyball Sydney Hilley. But the Rebels will still be a state championship contender behind a strong junior class that was often overlooked — but will be no longer. Coach John Yunker is back after a brief flirtation with college coaching, and has a great young team anchored by libero Kaitlyn Weimerskirch and DS Bryann Goar, setter Izzy Ashburn, and hitters Emma Schmidt, Sami Hilley, Jordan Stalpes, and Hannah Prasky.
Stillwater is expected to make another jump up from last year's 19 victories, which was largely paced by underclassmen. Hitting shouldn't be an issue for the Ponies with seniors Mikayla Gjerde and Rachel Houle, and sophomore Maddie Whittington.
Our pick: Champlin Park in four.
7 p.m. — Hopkins vs. Prior Lake
Hopkins again hosts the Side Out Classic and again has a team that could return to the state tournament for the third straight season. The Royals return All-State setter Tara Lee and top hitters such as Anna Erickson and rising middle Chudear Tut. They'll be tasked with replacing All-State hitter Jazmyn Martin, now at Minnesota.
Prior Lake has also been to two straight state tourneys and is a favorite to return. Coach Mike Dean will relay on senior libero CC McGraw, outside hitter Haley Stolt, and middles Maddie Bremer and Kayla Bair, all of whom have already committed to colleges.
Our pick: Prior Lake in four.
|School Name||Conference||Sect||Overall Record||Coach|
|Blaine||Northwest Suburban||7AAA||18-10||Celeste Gorman|
|Champlin Park||Northwest Suburban||5AAA||31-3||John Yunker|
|Eastview||South Suburban||3AAA||11-17||Ryan Dehnel|
|Hopkins||Lake||6AAA||30-3||Vicki Seliger Swenson|
|Osseo||Northwest Suburban||5AAA||24-4||Mandi Burian|
|Prior Lake||South Suburban||2AAA||27-7||Mike Dean|
|Rosemount||South Suburban||3AAA||14-15||Smoak Vitek|
|Stillwater Area||Suburban East||4AAA||19-10||Robert Fisher|
|Waconia||Wright County East||2AAA||24-5||Katie Keogh|
|Blaine||Isabella Erne||OH||5'8||12||St. Cloud State|
|Champlin Park||Bryanna Goar||LI||5'9||12||Northern State|
|Champlin Park||Emma Schmidt||OH/RH/DS||6'1||11|
|Champlin Park||Hannah Prasky||MH||6'0||10|
|Champlin Park||Izzy Ashburn||OH/S||5'10||11|
|Champlin Park||Jordan Stalpes||OH/DS||5'9||10|
|Champlin Park||Kaitlyn Weimerskirsch||LI||5'6||11|
|Champlin Park||Sami Hilley||MH||5'10||10|
|Edina||Lauren Turner||RH||'||12||San Diego|
|Hopkins||Tara Lee||S||5'11||12||Class AAA All-State HM|
|Prior Lake||CC McGraw||LI||5'9||12||Class AAA All-State||Minnesota|
|Prior Lake||Haley Stolt||OH||5'11||12||Bemidji State|
|Prior Lake||Hannah Reis||LI||5'7||12|
|Prior Lake||Kayla Bair||MH||6'2||12||Class AAA All-State||Michigan|
|Prior Lake||Maddie Bremer||MH||6'0||12||Northern Colorado|
|Stillwater Area||Maddie Whittington||MB||6'3||10|
|Stillwater Area||Mikayla Gjerde||OH||5'11||12|
|Stillwater Area||Rachel Houle||RH||6'0||12|
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