Minneota back in State Volleyball Tourney
The Minneota Vikings are back — and so is the team that beat them for the state title a year ago, Mayer Lutheran.
The two are among an eight-team field qualified for the Minnesota State Class A Volleyball Tournament next weekend.
Minneota got there with a 3-0 win over Adrian Saturday night, 25-16; 25-14 and 25-17.
Mayer, the state's No. 3-ranked team and defending state champ, beat No. 2-ranked Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 18-25; 25-21; 25-22 and 25-21 to earn their way back into the state.
The pairings have not been set at this time.
While Minneota all-stater Lydia Sussner knocked down 19 kills with Lizzy Gillingham and Natalee Rolbiecki adding nine each, it was a senior sub off the bench that made the most difference.
With Sussner rotated out, Sydney Larson comes in — and Adrian may have over-looked her. She blasted six kills, defended the net and helped lead No. 1-ranked Minneota to it's 33rd win in 34 contests.
"It felt good to come back," Larson said about missing the start of the season due to illness.
She became Sussner's rotation relief and said, "I was told I always had to play a role," which she did.
Larson added, "Lydia is a great player and is in the top 5 for Miss Basketball." As a result, Larson knows she has big shoes to fill and Saturday night she did it well.
After a tough match, in which Wabasso was a tough compeitition, the Adrian match seemed somewhat easier. "Wabasso was great competition," Larson said.
But Saturday night, "We played together," and now it's, "Good to go back to state my senior year. It will be amazing," Larson said.
Minneota made only 12 hitting and service errors all night, and in the second game Morgan Hennen served five straight points, taking her team from an 18-8 lead to 22-8. During that span Gillingham had a pair of kills and setter Morgan Kockelman blocked back a shot for a point.
Morgan Hennen also had a string of eight straight in the third game that pushed th Vikings from a 1-1 tie to a 9-1 lead and they never surrendered that edge. Sussner cashed in with five kills and a block with Kockelman for six of those eight points.
Adrian countered with Miah Kunkel doing the hitting but it wasn't enough. She had nine kills to lead the Dragons.
In the end, Larson smashed down a killsand Morgan Hennen got another as the team rolled to a 25-17 win and earned a spot in the state tournament.