On the Bench with Byron Higgin
The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Volleyball HUB Website featured Lydia Sussner, Minneota’s star middle hitter this week.
She led the Vikings to the Class A state championship game last year and recorded 52 kills in three matches (.330 hitting percentage) against Mayer Lutheran and was selected to the all-tournament team.
Now in her senior season, Sussner wants more and her team seems poised to deliver. Minneota, ranked No. 1 in the Class A coaches’ association poll, features Sussner with two other returning all-tourney selections: Natalee Rolbiecki and Morgan Kockelman.
Together, they’ve led the Vikings to a 22-1 record with 12 consecutive straight-set wins with their only loss coming against No. 9-3A Northfield on Sept. 8.
Individually, Sussner has garnered attention as a Ms. Volleyball candidate and she was an all-state selection a year ago.
After leading the Vikings’ volleyball team to its state run last fall, Sussner was also the main cog on the Minneota girls’ basketball team, which placed third in last year’s Class A state tournament. She averaged 20 points and 8.67 rebounds per game during the tourney.
With a couple weeks remaining in the regular season, Sussner took time off the court to speak to MN Volleyball Hub
MN Volleyball Hub: What was it like reaching the state volleyball tournament last year? Lydia: We proved a lot of people wrong... It was crazy. It kind of drew our whole town together.
MN Volleyball Hub: How did it compare to your journey to state in basketball the season after?
Lydia: They were both different. Basketball was pretty cool, getting to play in three different arenas (Williams Arena, Target Center and Concordia University’s Gangelhoff Center), but playing in the Xcel Energy Center was awesome, too. They both just had different feelings, basketball we knew we had a chance to get there, while volleyball was a surprise.
MN Volleyball Hub: What are your goals for the volleyball season?
Lydia: I want to get back to state, have no regrets, knowing I did everything I could, and make lots of memories.
MN Volleyball Hub: How have things changed, returning to the court as a favorite?
Lydia: We’ve come back even hungrier. Everyone we play has a target on our backs, but we’re all really competitive and even more focused.
MN Volleyball Hub: If you had to pick a sport, basketball or volleyball?
Lydia: Basketball. I like the physical part of the game and the running part, up and down the floor.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why? My grandma Shirley. She got cancer and she always fought until the very last day. She never let it get her down. She taught me to live my life to the fullest every day because you don’t know what’s going to happen, nothing is a given. — Lydia Sussner
Out of bounds MN Volleyball Hub: If you could go anywhere on a two-week vacation, where would you go?
Lydia: Orlando, I love the warm weather and the water. I also have a lot of good memories there. (Editor’s Note: Sussner was part of the Southwest Minnesota Volleyball Club 18-1 team that won the AAU Junior National Championships in Orlando last June.)
MN Volleyball Hub: Who is your favorite athlete?
Lydia: [Retired WNBA star and University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach] Lindsay Whalen because of everything she has done for this state, coming from a small school.
MN Volleyball Hub: What is your dream job after high school? Lydia: I want to be a physical therapist working with kids and treating sports injuries.
Weekend Tournament: Since they won the Volleyball Warehouse weekend tournament in Burnsville, the Minneota girls have not been tested in area volleyball. They should get a good test on Friday and Saturday when they travel to Eastview High School in Apple Valley for a two-day tournament.
This tournament used to be hosted by Apple Valley but has shifted to Eastview. Teams included in the tournament are: (records before Tuesday night action): Rosemount (9-11), Andover (9-12), Blaine (7-12), New Prague (14-7), Orono (2-17), Robbinsdale Armstrong (10-9), Duluth East, Waconia (11-6), Sauk Rapids-Rice (13-6), Shakopee (13-7) Minneota (22-1), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (8-8), Kenyon-Wanamingo (16-6), LeSueur-Henderson (13-7), Maple Lake (13-7) and Eastview (9-10).
Action starts at 5 p.m. on Friday and continues again at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Besides Minneota ranked No. 1 in A, the only other ranked tournament in the tournament is Kenyon-Wanamingo ranked No. 6 in Class AA.
Minneota opens the tournament Friday night against Robbinsdale Armstrong. (Thanks to the Star & Tribune and Volleyball HUB for this article).
OK, WARS (We Aren’t Really Sure) had the perfect score, 11-0 last week.
That’s 47 of 55 for 85 percent on the year. Said it would be 42-12, Minneota over Springfield and it was 47-16.
Close on Dawson-Boyd over Canby (said 46-14) and it was 54-6. Predicted 36-13 LqPV over Lakeview and it was 47-16.
The best game of the week was Westbrook-WG sneaking past Renville Co. West. I was off on the score but got the outcome correct.
Notice BOLD continues to roll BIG.
Here are this week’s WARS picks:
Minneota 60, Lakeview 7
Tracy-M-B 26, NU Cathedral 21
Springfield 14, Sleepy Eye 13
Murray Co. Central 35, Wabasso 6
Dawson-Boyd 56, Yellow ME 6
Canby 28, Adrian 27
Ortonville 36, LqPV 21
Willmar 24, Becker 21
Russell-T-R 14, Edgerton/Ellsworth 7
Marshall 60, Tri-City United 14
BOLD 35, Atwater-Cosmos-GC 7