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Tough Way To Finish The Season For PL Spikers

11/04/2021, 4:00pm CDT
By Tom Schardin

The Prior Lake volleyball team’s late-season momentum stalled in the Section 2AAAA quarterfinals Oct. 26.

The fourth-seeded Lakers went into the postseason winning eight of their last 11 matches, including finishing with a 7-2 mark in the highly competitive South Suburban Conference. That tied the team for second place with No. 5-ranked Shakopee, while No. 2-ranked Eagan won the crown at 9-0.

Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Minnetonka went into the playoffs just 6-7 in their last 13 matches. But the Skippers stepped up their game to knock off Prior Lake on the road in five close sets (25-22, 20-25, 20-25, 25-22, 16-14).

Senior Julia Hanson finished with a team-best 31 kills and 23 digs, but it wasn’t enough for the Lakers.

Prior Lake beat Minnetonka in the regular season back on Sept. 20 in another five-setter.

The Lakers finished the season with a 15-14 overall mark. There were no section playoffs last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior Lake also went 0-1 in the Section 2AAA tournament back in 2019.

Volleyball went to four classes this fall when the Minnesota State High School League reclassified sections for all sports last April. The Lakers won three straight Section 2AAA titles from 2015 to 2017, but have a 1-3 playoff mark since then.

The loss to Minnetonka also was the end of Hanson’s stellar career for the Lakers. She leaves as the program’s all-time leader in kills with 1,492 and her 537 kills this season were a single-season record for Prior Lake.

Hanson will play next fall at the University of Minnesota. She’ll be the eighth Laker since 2015 to go on to play at the Division I level.

The other seven are CC McGraw (Minnesota), Kayla Bair (Michigan), Ella Francis (Illinois State), Maddy Bremer (Colorado State), Lara Schultz (North Dakota State), Camile Libert (Ohio) and Olivia Spanton (Nebraska-Omaha).

Hanson is one of seven seniors the Lakers will have to replace next fall. The other six are Courtney Haugen, Lydia Olson, Alex Lloyd, Sophie Gardiner, Sierra Washington and Britta Lund.

Lloyd was second on the Lakers in kills this season with 197, while junior Kaia Harvey was third (116). Sophomore Ella Joesting led in set assists with 454, followed by ninth-grader Catalina Connell (380).

Connell led the team in ace serves with 34, followed by Hanson (33), sophomore Liz Coleman (26) and Joesting (21). Haugen led in digs with 304, followed by Hanson (287), Joesting (195), Coleman (133) and Connell (124).

In blocks, Lund was tops on the team with 64, while Harvey had 62 and Washington had 61. Gardiner was fourth (56) and Hanson was fifth (38).

In the loss to Minnetonka, Lloyd finished with nine kills for the Lakers. Lund led in blocks with three, while Gardiner had two. Haugen had 17 digs, while Joesting had nine.

Coleman led in ace serves with three, followed by Gardiner with two. Joesting had 26 set assists, while Connell finished with 22.

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