Minneota shatters Cinderella's slipper
Walking into the Xcel Energy Center for the Class A State Championship was like entering Medford's own personal kingdom.
Their fans were everywhere, they had everyone talking about upsetting the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked teams Mayer Lutheran and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa to get to the state finals.
It was, in fact, as though the title would be bestowed to Medford without as much as a battle.
But Minneota, in typical form, shattered Cinderella's glass slippers in with three straight sets, 25-20; 25-14 and 25-11, to claim the Class A State Championship on Saturday.
"The Medford people were wild, I talked to so many people I knew. Afterall, they had never been here before," said Minneota Principal Jeremy Frie, who was in the Medford School District before coming to Minneota.
His daughter Abby, who was about four when they left Medford, is now a member of the state championship Minneota Vikings.
Minneota ended the season 36-1 with only the second state championship in school history.
Coach Hayley (Hennen) Fruin, was a setter on the championship team of 2006. Now, as the coach, she said at Saturday night's welcome home, "It's about time!"
She said it isn't easy to be No. 1 all year, but, "This year we were on a mission."
When asked which was better, winning as a player or a coach, Fruin said, "Today was way better," But that both were truly special. She told her players, "Enjoy this moment, take it all in."
Captain Lydia Sussner said their No. 1 goal all year was to win the state tournament.
Senior Sydney Larson lightened up the moment but looking at the underclassmen and saying, "I can't wait to come back here and smoke you in the alumni game."
Athletic Director Jason Myhre said the team won with, "Beauty, class and sportsmanship. There was a lot of pressure, but you met expectations," he added.
Three Vikings were named to the All-Tournament team: Lydia Sussner, setter Morgan Kockelman and Libero Abby Hennen.
Certainly all six starters could have been on the squad with freshman Natalee Rolbiecki; junior Morgan Hennen having excellent tournaments and Lizzy Gillingham capable if she hadn’t been injured in the Ada-Borup game.
Speaking about the championship game, Medford Coach Missy Underdahl said, "Minneota had the composure, we didn't. That broke down for us."
Gillingham played, but came out when it was her turn to serve. And the rest of the team tried to compensate for her. Sussner had 14 kills, three serve aces, two digs and four blocks. But the most fun was the fact she got to play Libero in the back row and made a couple of digs.
"That was the highlight for me," laughed Coach Fruin.
Rolbiecki did more than her share, taking up yeoman hitting duties while knocking down 14 kills with five digs.
Gillingham did get seven swings for kills and Morgan Hennen added seven more.
Minneota had a hitting percentage of .426 for the game, which was quite high.
"Last year we were very proud of our second place finish. But we left with a lot of unfinished business," said Coach Fruin. "I'm glad it all paid off.
"It feels good to get a state championship. But it hasn't hit me yet,” said Abby Hennen.
Minneota 3, Medford 0
KILLS: Minneota-Lydia Sussner 14; Natalee Rolbiecki 14; Lizzy Gillingham and Morgan Hennen 7; Sydney Larson 4; Morgan Kockelman 1; Abby Hennen 1. Medford: Amma Kniefel 12; Kinsey Cronin 10; Rachel Luebbe 9; Izzy Reuvers 2.
DIGS: Minneota-Abby Hennen 24, Morgan Hennen 10; Rolbiecki 5; Gillingham 3; Sussner, Kockelman, Ellie Pesch 2 each; Larson 1. Medford-Kiley Nihart 11; Izzy Ruevers 9; Emma Kniefel and Morgan Langeslag 5 each; Journey Anderst 3; Meredith Gillis 4; Cronin, Rachael Luebbe 2 each.
SERVING: (Aces-errors) Minneota-Sussner 3 of 4; Morgan Hennen of 2; Abby Hennen 1. Medford-Langeslag 2 of four; Kniefel 1, Anderst 1 of 2.
BLOCKS: Minneota-Sussner 6; Kockelman 1 (1 error); Morgan Hennen 2; Larson 1. Medford-Reuvers 1; Kniefel 1 (1 error); Luebbe 3; Cronin 2; Langeslag (2 errors); Isabel DeLeon 1.
SET ASSISTS: Minneota-Kockelman 41, Pesch 2, Gillingham, Abby Hennen 1 each. Medford: Langeslag 31.