State Champs open a brand new season
The paint was hardly dry on Minneota’s 2018 State Championship when it was announced the No. 1 team in the state last year would open the season playing the team they beat for the title, Medford. Minneota will play Medford in the Breakdown Showcase at Edina and Southview Middle School on Saturday, Aug. 24.
The “pool play” tournament will give Coach Hayley Fruin a better idea of where her team is at this time. The pre-season polls put Medford in second place behind Kenyon-Wanamingo and Minneota in fourth place.
“We played them (Medford) last week in a summer tournament and they beat us,” said Fruin. The Vikings will have to replace middle hitter Lydia Sussner — not that she can be replaced. Sussner is working out with the SMSU Mustangs in Marshall as one of their freshman recruits.
Meanwhile, Fruin said, “Abby Hennen will move from Libero to hitter.” That likely puts the Libero duties on the shoulders of Ellie Pesch. “She will play there but won’t be in the game all the time,” related the coach.
Standing in line to hit is sophomore Natalee Rolbiecki, who earned all-tournament honors this past year when Minneota captured the Class A title.
Sophomore Abby Frie is also in line for playing time. At 5-10, the Vikings hope she’ll be a force at the net, with Lizzy Gillingham and Sydney Larson graduated from the front line. Abby Rost will likely fit in somewhere, as will Madison Sorensen.
The key to the team may be filling the spot of all-state setter Morgan Kockelman.
That job may fall to sophomore McKenna Yost but it’s yet to be decided. “Right now we have a lot of sore shoulders,” laughed Coach Fruin.
A lot of work this summer has left Minneota in a good spot to begin the defense of their 2018 Class A State Championship.
But it won’t be easy. The target is on their backs — and they say defending a state title is much tougher than winning one.