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Can The Lakers Be A Factor In The SSC and Playoffs?

09/04/2022, 9:45pm CDT
By Tom Schardin

The Prior Lake volleyball team will have some big shoes to fill from last year’s squad.

The Lakers finished 15-14 overall, while going 7-2 in the highly competitive South Suburban Conference. Prior Lake lost in the first round of Section 2AAAA play, falling in five sets at home to Minnetonka.

Gone are seven seniors, including Julia Hanson, who was the Ms. Baden Award winner last year as the top senior in the state.

Hanson is now on the Division I court at the University of Minnesota, leaving Prior Lake as the program’s all-time leader in kills with 1,492. Her 537 kills last season were a single-season record for the Lakers.

Prior Lake opened this fall losing in three sets (25-23, 28-26, 25-20) Aug. 26 at No. 2-ranked East Ridge, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up to Wayzata.

Senior Kaia Harvey is back for Prior Lake. She was third on the team in kills last year with 116.

Both of the Lakers’ setters are back in junior Ella Joesting and sophomore Catalina Connell, who had 454 and 380 assists, respectively, last fall.

Connell led the team in ace serves last year with 34, while junior Liz Coleman was third with 26 and Joesting was fourth with 21. Coleman projects as an outside hitter for Prior Lake.

Harvey is one of two seniors on the varsity with the other being Micayla Myers, who will be on the front line as a middle blocker.

Juniors Ava Huebener, Kyla Ahlstrom, Julia Thoms and Lexi Tuma, sophomores Marin Harvey, Elli Tufto and Greta Tompkins and ninth-graders Dylan Raveling and Sidney Burley will also vie for varsity playing time.

There were no section playoffs in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior Lake also went 0-1 in the Section 2AAA tournament back in 2019, the last official season of three-class volleyball in the state.

Prior Lake won three straight Section 2AAA titles from 2015 to 2017, but have a 1-3 playoff mark since then.

Eden Prairie is the defending Section 2AAAA champion, beating Chaska in the title match last fall. Chaska is the only team ranked from the section in the preseason Class 4A poll at No. 7.

In the SSC, two teams are ranked, No. 5 Eagan and No. 7 Lakeville North. Last fall, five SSC teams were ranked to open the season, and over the last six years the league has had at least three ranked teams.

Prior Lake’s first league match is Sept. 12 at Rosemount. The Lakers’ first home SSC contest is Sept. 20 against Burnsville.

The regular season ends for Prior Lake Oct. 19 at home against Shakopee. The first round of section play starts Oct. 25 with the quarterfinals.

The semifinals are Oct. 27 and the title game is Nov. 2. The higher seed is at home all three rounds.

The Class 4A state tournament will be Nov. 9-12 at the XCel Energy in St. Paul.

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