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Can PL Spikers Serve Notice In Sections?

10/21/2021, 1:15pm CDT
By Tom Schardin

The Prior Lake volleyball team has posted some big wins this fall, but can they win three straight in the playoffs?

That’s what it will take for the Lakers to win the Section 2AAAA title. Quarterfinal play starts Oct. 26 and Prior Lake will head into the postseason with a 15-13 overall record.

The Lakers finished the regular season winning four of their last six matches. The team went 4-1 at the Bachman Invitational at Lakeville North Oct. 15-16 with their one loss being to No. 3-ranked Eden Prairie.

Prior Lake posted wins over Jackson County Central, Caledonia, Moorhead and No. 10 Northfield. Jackson County Central is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, while Caledona is No. 7.

The Lakers also tied for second in the South Suburban Conference with a 7-2 mark. Second-ranked Eagan won (9-0), while No. 5 Shakopee also had a 7-2 mark.

Prior Lake had a chance for sole possession of second place Oct. 19, but they lost their final SSC match in five sets at home to No. 7 Lakeville North (25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13).

Section brackets come out Oct. 23 and can be found at mshsl.org/section-events. Six out of the seven section teams have winning records. The No. 1 seed will get a bye in the first round.

The semifinals are set for Oct. 28 with the title match Nov. 5. The higher seed is at home for all three rounds.

Prior Lake is looking like the No. 4 or 5 seed at this point. Eden Prairie (17-5), No. 4 Chaska (17-6) and Shakopee (21-6) look to be the top-three seeds.

Minnetonka (19-9) is vying with the Lakers for the No. 4 spot. Chanhassen (15-7) and Waconia (11-4) are also in the field.

The Lakers are 2-4 against section teams with their wins over Minnetonka and Shakopee. Prior Lake has two losses to Chaska and one each to Waconia and Eden Prairie.

Prior Lake won three straight Section 2AAA titles from 2015 to 2017. Volleyball went to four classes this fall after the Minnesota State High School League reclassified sections for all sports last spring.

Meanwhile, in the loss to Lakeville North, senior Julia Hanson led the way for Prior Lake with 34 kills, giving her 488 on the season. She needed 20 kills going into the match to set the Lakers’ single-season record of 473, which was set by Ella Francis in 2015.

Hanson is already Prior Lake’s all-time kills leader.

Senior Alex Lloyd had 11 kills against Lakeville North, while junior Kaia Harvey had eight and senior Taylor Hennen had six. Ninth-grader Catalina Connell and sophomore Ella Joesting paced the offense with 29 and 27 set assists, respectively.

Hanson also led in digs with 24, followed by senior Courtney Haugen with 21, Connell with 17 and Joesting with 11. Lloyd, Hennen and senior Britta Lund each had two blocks.

Lund and senior Sierra Washington led the Lakers in blocks in the regular season with 60 apiece, while Harvey had 56 and senior Sophie Gardiner had 54.

Lloyd was second behind Hanson in kills with 174, while Harvey had 106. Joesting led in set assists with 412, while Connell had 344.

Connell led in ace serves with 32, followed by Hanson (31), sophomore Liz Coleman (23) and Joesting (21). In digs, Haugen led the way with 277, while Hanson finished with 255 and Joesting had 180.

This year’s Class 4A state tourney is set for Nov. 10-13 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. There was no state tournament last year due to COVID-19.

Top-ranked Wayzata won the last Class 3A state title in 2019. The Trojans are unbeaten so far this spring, ending the regular season with a 28-0 record.

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