SATURDAY SIX PACK FROM THE SIDE OUT CLASSIC
The first Saturday of the high school season features the Side Out Classic which this year moved from Hopkins to Edina. There were 18 contests on three separate courts (six matches each) with ranked teams in abundance. I was able to see six games. The start of the event I continued my tour of section 4A, and then dialed in on the feature court. The first three matches had a Class A theme, and all had brooms. Then it was the bigger schools and those matches were all longer than the three setters earlier in the day. Two went to five sets, both went to extra points in the final set. All three defending state champs were in the house. Let’s get to it.
If the names are wrong below it is because they were pulled from the rosters provided at the site. There has been glitches on the MSHSL site.
GAME 1: NEW LIFE ACADEMY 3, CANNON FALLS 0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-22)
Two time section 4A champ New Life beat AA Cannon Falls in the eye opener. In the first set NL used an 8-1 finish. CF trailed 22-16 in the second set, but a last second rally tied it up. Elli Wiertsema delivered two side out kills in the final three Eagle points to secure the victory. It was NL’s turn to rally in the final set. Down 21-17 they duplicated their 8-1 finish to wrap up the win with Wierstema providing the last two points on kills. Wiertsema led all players with 15 kills and 20 points.
|NEW LIFE||CANNON FALLS|
|EARNED PER SET||14.67||12.67|
|FIRST BALL KILLS||18||13|
|LEADING SCORER||Elli Wiertsema 20||Shayla Hustad 10|
GAME 2: PINE RIVER-BACKUS 3, HERITAGE CHRISTIAN 0 (25-8, 25-7, 25-3)
Unranked Pine River-Backus made a clear statement that they should be under consideration for the next class A poll with a single digit sweep of Heritage Christian. HC was not at full strength with only seven players available. PRB took advantage of that racking up 35 aces shredding the HC serve receive. At no point did any set complete the service rotation. HC did get a run of four in the first set, but they had already trailed 17-4 before that bump.
|PINE RIVER-BACKUS||HERITAGE CHRISTIAN|
|EARNED PER SET||19.00||2.67|
|FIRST BALL KILLS||6||3|
|LEADING SCORER||#13 (no named in roster) 11||Kaitlyn Shireman 5|
GAME 3: MINNEOTA 3, MEDFORD 0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-18)
The #4A & defending A champ Vikings didn’t pay attention to the rankings and beat #2 Medford in a rematch of the A title game. In the first set Minneota opened with the first three points and closed with a 10-2 run. In set two a nine point run expanded a 10-8 Viking lead on Abby Hennen’s serve. The Minneota defense frustrated Medford’s attack all match. Momentum is a big part of the game and Minneota won the runs of three or more 9-5. In the final set Medford called their first time out down 14-7. The problem for the Tigers was the inability to score off serve. Of their 14 attempts they only were able to score off two. Translated: Minneota had a FBSO % of .857 in the third set.
|EARNED PER SET||17.00||13.33|
|FIRST BALL KILLS||14||12|
|LEADING SCORER||Abby Hennen 12||Kinsey Cronin 16.5|
GAME 4: NORTH BRANCH 3, SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN 2 (23-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-15, 19-17)
The #2AA & defending AA champ Vikings hung on and outlasted #9AA Southwest Christian. The Stars stole the first set from NB after trailing 18-13 (finishing with a 12-5 kick). Three of SWC’s four runs in the first set came down that stretch. NB raced out to a 9-3 lead in the first set before a SWC time out. SWC had visions of another rally win after their second time out at 17-9 sliced the deficit to 18-14. A pair of Cianna Selbitschka aces gave NB more breathing space at 23-15. In a déjà vu experience, SWC erased a 17-9 deficit and roared back with a 16-4 finish. In that sequence NB was called for an overlap but the scorer’s table never took away the point awarded to NB. It did not factor into the final in that set. Selbitschka only was heard of once in that set with one kill. She had 28 in the other four sets. NB rectified that abnormality in set four with six Selbitschka kills, five of which were on first swings. She led all players all day with points scored, kills and first swing kills (19). SWC had the lead at 10-5 when NB called time. This was the first set the Stars led at that juncture. NB came out of the break with three straight points forcing SWC to burn a time out. Selbitschka limited any SWC plans for points of serve with three side out kills. NB had one match point but a hitting error gave SWC a chance. An ace by Madeleine Lemkuil put SWC at match point. Selbitschka with her 19th FBSO kill ended that chance. SWC had one more chance after a kill by Estelle Haugen. Selbitschka got the kill (but not on the first swing) and two hitting errors wrapped up the marathon session.
|NORTH BRANCH||SW CHRISTIAN|
|EARNED PER SET||16.74||13.91|
|FIRST BALL KILLS||29||16|
|LEADING SCORER||Cianna Selbitschka 35||Mackenzie Close 19|
GAME 5: MINNETONKA 3, STILLWATER 1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-19, 25-22)
Unranked Minnetonka surprised #6AAA Stillwater in four. This was the only match where the losing team had more earned points per set than the winner. Late game situations had the Skippers showing their ice water in their veins. With the score tied at 23 in the first set Savannah Vincent came up with a kill. Skyler Germann wrapped up the first set with a kill, her sixth of the set. Illinois bound Maddie Whittington cast a big shadow at the net to start set two with three straight points including two blocks forcing the Skippers to call time at 7-1. That stopped the Ponies surge. Minnetonka kept cutting into the margin down to 21-18. A double contact call started a 4-2 Stillwater finish. Volleyball is a game of runs and Minnetonka had five in the third set including the first three points initiated with two aces from Anysia Caille. Stillwater burned both their time outs down 14-10 and 19-11, the second with Whittington back in the front row. Stillwater was looking to steal the set with a 6-1 run down the stretch. A hitting error ended that dream. Whittington not only is a force at the net but also behind the service line. She came up with three aces during a four point run that made Minnetonka want to talk about it trailing 11-7. Two straight Pony hitting errors led to their first time out still ahead 17-15. Their next time out came at 20 all. Stillwater was able to inch ahead 22-21, but Kali Engeman got a kill to give the ball back to the Skippers. She also capped the game with a block.
|EARNED PER SET||15.25||16.75|
|FIRST BALL KILLS||19||13|
|LEADING SCORER||Skyler Germann 20||Maddie Whittington 22|
GAME 6: WAYZATA 3, CHAMPLIN PARK 2 (21-25, 25-10, 23-25, 25-17, 16-14)
The #3AAATrojans edged out the defending AAA champion & #4AAA Rebels in five. This could be a section 5AAA final preview. If that is the case Wayzata, with their length, and varied attack across the net should feel pretty good about their chances. CP was able to pocket the first set win after trailing 17-15. At that point the Trojan offense went off the rails with six hitting errors (seven counting a block for CP) as the Rebels closed strong with a 10-4 kick. It was a complete about face in the second set. An aggressive serve coupled with scattered receiving provided Wayzata with a commanding 16-3 lead. Wayzata won down the stretch 9-7, but it was extremely difficult to crawl out of a 13 point hole. Just like set one CP was able to close hard. Trailing 20-14 the Rebels again made use of Wayzata miscues, but this time added some power of their own. Jordan Stalpes capped the comeback with three straight kills. Stop me if you heard this before, a team loses a set then storms back to take the next set. This time Wayzata made use of missed CP serve to initiate runs of four and five to build a 10-2 advantage. CP at the late stages tried to cobble together another comeback cutting the margin to 23-17. Kate Long got the kill and then Olivia Johnson came up aces to send the feature match to the fifth and final set. CP had the first run out to 3-1 but Wayzata righted the ship with a run of five to lead 8-4 and making the Rebels take time. That straighten out the Rebels who tied it with four straight and an eight all tie. If there was an Achilles heel for the Rebels it was serving. Specifically missed serves. Specifically, down the stretch. Of their last five services four could have featured six folding chairs on the other side of the net with the same result. All were deep including chances with the game tied at 13 and 14. Wayzata didn’t have that issue. Katelyn Empkey got her serve in and then Elizabeth Helmich roofed the CP attempt for a 16-14 win.
|EARNED PER SET||16.09||10.00|
|FIRST BALL KILLS||16||17|
|LEADING SCORER||Kate Long 17||Sami Hilley 16|