Badminton Out & About: State Team Tournament Semis and Finals

The team portion of the badminton wrapped up today with several twists and turns, several firsts. What was the tournament buzz?  #4 seed Edina knocked off both #1 Johnson and #3 Burnsville in the finals by the margin of 4-3. It was the first time the Hornets won the badminton team title—#199 in the Edina pantheon of champions. It was the first time ever in the 27 years of team championships that two suburban teams battled it out for the top prize.

This was the first appearance for Burnsville in the title game since 1999. The Blaze won the first four state badminton titles. It was the first time there was not a St. Paul presence in the title game since 1998. The loss to Edina in the semis stopped seven straight championships by the Governors. The last time they didn’t take the crown came in a similar fashion with then #4 seed St. Paul Central beating the Govs 4-3 in the semis. The Minutemen beat Harding in the title game by the same margin. All that came in 2014.

There were also several other noteworthy events. Edina’s #1 doubles team of Ivy Petersen and Sanna Coma bumped off the previously unbeaten, and #1 overall seed in tomorrow’s doubles tournament Johnson’s Birdy Xiong and Alexis Xiong. Another #1 seed, Highland Park’s Sunshine Vang lost to Johnson’s Sandy Vang in the third place contest. Neither loss will displace the two #1s from the top spot. What it does is give others the knowledge that there is a path to victory. Doing it will be another matter.

As for the title match (and semis) all were in the competitive realm of 4-3. This was the ninth time a final went 4-3 (Last year Johnson won 4-3 over Washington). For the entire 27 year history of the team tournament, there were only five schools to win it. Johnson and Harding have 20 of the 27 titles. Burnsville is the next highest with four. 89% of the titles have gone to three schools. That is changing.

My time today was spent charting the first singles with Burnsville and #2 overall seed Maddie Blackbourn facing #1 seed Sunshine Vang of Highland Park in the semis, and then #5 seed Betsy Lundberg of Edina in the title game. In a strange twist, all the players that won their match when I was charting ended up having their team lose the match. Both matches went to three sets. Blackbourn lost both first sets, won both second sets, and went on a rampage down the stretch in the title bout to win 21-11.


SUNSHINE VANG 2, MADDIE BLACKBOURN (22-13, 12-21, 21-16)

This could have been a Thursday final preview. HP’s Sunsine Vang outlasted Maddie Blackbourn in three. Vang had four runs in the first set and held Blackbourn to zero in a 22-13 win (I had one extra point for Vang). Vang had 14 winners in the opening set and closed with the final five points. Her first set favorite winner was the drive with five. Blackbourn favored the power game with five winners on smashes. She ended up with nine winners. In set two Blackbourn made up for her lack of runs in set one with two on her first three services. The coup de gras was a six point run on service five that put her in control 18-7. Vang had one last gasp with her second run of the set to close the gap to 18-11. Blackbourn’s winners totaled 11 in set two, Vang only 4. Neither got their smash game cranked up with only two by Blackbourn, none for Vang.

Vang pounced right out of the gate with the first four points in the final set, all winners. That done she also silenced Blackbourn on her first four services. The result was a solid 10-3 lead. Blackbourn inched back into it with her first run of four to close 12-10. It then became a game of runs, Vang, Blackbourn, and Vang again as neither could slam the door on side outs. Vang ended the match at 21-16 on an eight stroke smash.

Side out 11/25-.440 13/26-.500
Longest side out string 4 2
3+ Runs 10 5
Longest point string 5 6
First serve 1, 2 3
First point 2, 3 1
First run 1, 3 2
Service points 30 25
Serving % 52/55-.945 44/50-.880
Point generated off serve .545 .500
POINTS 55 50
Points after 11 27 27
Points after own errors 7 13
Winners after own errors 3 6
STROKES 238 241
Strokes per point 4.327 4.82
5+ rallies (%) 22 21
10+ rallies 4 6
2- rallies (%) 22 19
Aces 0 2
Blocks 2 2
Clears 6 6
Drives 5 1
Drops 3 2
Soft drives 8 7
Smashes 5 10
Even Stroke Winners 13 18
2nd Stroke Winners 8 6
Odd Stroke Winners 16 12
ERRORS 20 26
Deep 1 4
Net 8 9
Wide 8 7
Serve 3 6
Even stroke errors 13 14
2nd stroke errors 8 8
Odd stroke errors 7 12
Left 10 19
Right 19 11
Largest Lead 9, 1, 7 3, 11, 0
W:E Ratio 1.450 1.154
Margin 1.667
Set Point % 2/4-.500 ½-.500
Time 28:43


MADDIE BLACKBOURN 2, BETSY LUNDBERG 1 (15-21, 21-18, 21-11)

These two met earlier a few weeks ago with Lundberg just back from a shoulder injury. Blackbourn won then in two sets at Burnsville. Today Lundberg is healthier in the shoulder. In the semis she knocked off Johnson’s Sandy Vang. Lundberg had two runs in the first set. On her seventh service she scored five straight including two cross court drops to start it to pull in front 12-10. On service ten she scored five more to lead 19-14. Lundberg ended up with a lucky 13 winners and held Blackbourn to nine.

Lundberg rode that momentum to a 9-5 lead in set two. Blackbourn turned her fortune around on service three with a run of four. She still trailed at that stage 9-8. The pivot point came on service seven with six straight to stand on the verge 20-14. Lundberg held off set point four times, but a two stroke smash forced a third set. That was Blackbourn’s sixth smash of the set after only scoring three in that manner in the first set. Lundberg’s winner total was cut in half to six.

Lundberg had the jump out of the gate with the first three points. It was to be her only run of the third set. Blackbourn tied it at seven with her first run of four. There was an avalanche of Blackbourn points on service eight when she unleashed ten straight points, eight of which were winners. She was definitely on fire with 18 winners. Lundberg was left behind with four. Blackbourn capped the win with a two stroke smash in a 29 minute match.

Again the ironic part of these matches was the winners were not moving to the right side of the bracket and not hoisting trophies at the end of the day. Tomorrow with these outcomes the hoisting will be all on them.

Side out 17/27-.630 14/26-.538
Longest side out string 5 4
3+ Runs 5 6
Longest point string 10 5
First serve 1, 3 2
First point 2, 1, 3
First run 1, 2, 3
Service points 31 24
Serving % /57 /50
Point generated off serve .544 .480
POINTS 57 50
Points after 11 26 18
Points after own errors 14 10
Winners after own errors 9 6
STROKES 216 227
Strokes per point 3.789 4.540
5+ rallies (%) 16 23
5+ rallies 2 2
2- rallies (%) 22 14
Aces 2 0
Blocks 1 1
Clears 7 3
Drives 3 1
Drops 6 3
Soft drives 2 6
Smashes 19 10
Even Stroke Winners 19 14
2nd Stroke Winners 10 3
Odd Stroke Winners 21 10
ERRORS 26 17
Deep 5 2
Net 10 8
Wide 9 6
Serve 2 1
Even stroke errors 14 11
2nd stroke errors 11 6
Odd stroke errors 12 6
Left 22 12
Right 18 12
Largest Lead 3, 6, 10 6, 5, 3
W:E Ratio 1.538 1.411
Margin 2.333  
Set Point % 2/7-.286 1/1-1.000
Time 28:48  

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