ANDOVER 3, ST. PAUL HARDING 1
(25-13, 22-25, 25-7, 25-23)
The 2019 boys’ volleyball season is over, and Andover won the first eight team boys state tournament held at Shakopee defeating St. Paul Harding in four sets. This tournament featured the eight conference champions with some tentative reaches to the rest of the state. This was not an exclusive metro based event. Kasson-Mantorville represented the south; Proctor-Hermantown the north. Andover was the North Conference champion; Harding the East. Each team was seeded into the event and the seeding committee was on the money with the finalists. Andover stopped Rogers in the quarters and then beat Prior Lake in the semis. Harding advanced with a win over Proctor-Hermantown and then topped another city school, Minneapolis Southwest in the semis.
The Huskies out earned the Knight 69-39 with 15 more kills and eight more blocks. Andover did have a size advantage at the net. Andover had better balance with five players garnering seven or more kills. Harding had two. Leading the point production was Newjai Chang of Harding with a game high 14 kills and 17 points. Both teams relied on seniors: Andover had five of their seven that will graduate in a couple of weeks; Harding had seven of the ten players they used.
Andover broke open the first set with seven straight points (13-5). The Huskies had three kills plus two blocks in the run. A Harding time out at 10-5 did not change momentum. The Knights used their second time out at 20-10. Evan Ash had three kills in this set for Andover. Harding had five first ball side out kills in the set, one more than Andover. Hitting errors in transition hurt the Knights. Of the first six Andover points, three were on hitting errors.
It looked like more of the same in the second set when Justice Williams, after getting a two touch dump on the side out, served up four more points with a combination of short and deeper serves. That 5-0 lead remained with Andover until the Knights got their first run courtesy two hitting errors to close the gap to 15-14. Harding grabbed their first lead of the day at 18-17 on a kill from Doua Neng Lor. For the next eight points the game moved to side out mode. Newjai Chang put Harding one point away with his fourth kill of the set (and third first ball swing kill). A block by Doua Neng Lor evened up the series.
There must have been something about the south side of the gym. That is where both teams enjoyed victories. Andover reverted to first set form and only allowed one two point run in the set. The Huskies opened up the set with three straight kills from Derek Owens. Once again Andover broke the set open with eight straight points (17-5). Harding could not figure out how to get the side out in rotation five. At that point it was just a matter of time. Owens ended the set on an overpass kill, his seventh point of the set.
Andover scored first and had the first run of three to go up 10-6. Harding rode the arm of Newjai Chang with three straight points. The junior middle racked up eight points in the final frame. Harding went on an 8-2 run to take their first lead at 14-12. Andover responded with four straight points capped by a tip kill from Nolan Foy. After a side out Newjai Chang went to the service line and delivered two aces to inch Harding back in front 17-16. There was to be three more lead changes down the stretch. Tommy Kelly put Andover up for good with a first swing kill (23-22). Chang had one last kill to close the gap to one (24-23) but Kelly again on the first swing put Andover in celebration mode with his fifth kill of the fourth set.
Harding’s line up was exclusively made up of Asians showing that there is a broad desire to play volleyball. This was the second year for both schools.
This was the first out & about for the boys this year. For the past two years I had written about the games. This year I was involved with coaching at Henry and was unable to make any game. I also had a massive paper that was due today in the master’s class I am taking. I was chasing three rabbits.
Henry lost to Andover in the only home game the Patriots had this year. That score was 25-11, 8, 15. Henry only had 14 earned points that night.
So where do we go from here? What is in store for 2020? Boys volleyball will still be on the outside looking in. That means the sport will not be officially sanctioned by the MSHSL. The growing pains are still be felt in some areas. Gym space is tight. The April snow dump cancelled some contests. My expectations are that more teams will sprout next year. Some of the blanks in the metro will be filled in. More areas of the state will get involved at some point. There are some schools that are under the radar and are playing outside of the boundaries of the organization right now. That is a potential tap in. But from the indications at Shakopee today the enterprise is moving forward and some schools will regret not getting on board soon.
|6||22||Yee Leng Khang||DS||2019||0||0||0||0|
|8||Doua Neng Lor||MB||2019||0||4||5||5|
BY THE NUMBERS
|First Swing SO||.316||.276|
RACE TO …
RECEIVE TO KILL
|8||Doua Neng Lor||3||1||.333||1||.333|
|22||Yee Leng Khang||9||2||.222||2||.222|