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John's Journal: History Is In The Air, But Marshall Stays Focused

Tigers Could Be First Team To Win Eight Volleyball Titles

Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 7:32 PM


The Marshall High School volleyball team is on the doorstep of history, but you won’t catch any of the Tigers players or coaches bringing it up. They’re just out to play winning volleyball, which they certainly did in a 3-0 sweep of DeLaSalle on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament at Xcel Energy Center.

Marshall made its first trip to state 45 years ago and the 2022 tournament marks its 31st appearance. The Tigers won seven championships between 2004 and 2021, and no school has won eight volleyball state titles. The others with seven are Bethlehem Academy, Chaska, Eagan, Armstrong and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (Chaska lost to Rogers in Wednesday’s Class 4A quarterfinals).

Marshall (31-2) will meet Grand Rapids (26-5) in Friday morning’s semifinals, but no one is looking any farther afield than that.

“I think we keep it in the back of our minds,” said senior Caitlyn Christenson. “And I think that if we just focus on our roles in order to win the state championship, we can.”

Classmate Randi Wendorff agreed, saying, “I think we just focus on the game that we're playing. I don't think we're playing with a lot of pressure that we have to handle. We're going into every game, focusing on what we need to do.”

Dan Westby, who is in his 19th season as the Marshall head coach, directed the team to state titles in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2021. He said winning another title is never mentioned.

“We haven't talked about it all year, not one time, but it's out there. And I'm not a social media person, but they are (nodding toward his players) and they read that stuff. And it is what it is. We just go into the gym every day and try to figure out ways to get better. It's there. What are you going to do?”

First Trip To State

Five teams are playing at state for the first time in history, including DeLaSalle. The Islanders had a tough quarterfinal draw in Marshall, but they said the experience was something they’ll never forget.

“It was so nerve-racking for me,” said senior Lia de Sibour. “During the first serve I think I was shaking. But I said, ‘Take a couple of deep breaths.’

“It was awesome. We're just grateful to have an experience like this, to come in here and play. It is about winning, but it's more about having fun.”

--The other teams at state volleyball for the first time are Ely in 1A, Rush City in 2A, and Detroit Lakes in 3A. The Ely Timberwolves are the only undefeated team in the field; they will take a 29-0 record into their quarterfinal against Mayer Lutheran (26-5) at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Great History For Chaska

Chaska is making its 16th appearance at state and the Hawks won championship in 1991, 1993 1994, 1996, 2005, 2006 and 2014. Head coach Sue Murphy is in her 27th season with a record of 585-211 going into Thursday’s consolation-round match with Burnsville. 

Many of the current players watched as youngsters when Chaska won its 2014 state title.

“Almost every single one of us was at the 2014 game,” said senior Avery Rosenberg. “I didn't even play volleyball at the time and I was just as excited as anyone else. I feel like our community knows what Chaska volleyball is and even when we were young, we were a part of it.”

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected]  

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Volleyball State Tournament, 2022: Day 1 Recap