John's Journal: Marshall Makes History With Eighth State Title
Tigers Sweep Benilde-St. Margaret’s To Capture 3A Volleyball Crown
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2022 - 12:23 AM
The clock read 10:26 p.m. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center and it had been a long day of waiting for the Marshall High School volleyball team. Because of earlier matches that had gone to four and five sets, the Tigers’ Class 3A state championship match against Benilde-St. Margaret’s – scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. – started nearly three hours later.
No problem. All the waiting was well worth it as Marshall made history. A 3-0 sweep of the Red Knights gave the Tigers their eighth state volleyball title, more than any school in state history. Teams that have won seven crowns are Bethlehem Academy, Chaska, Eagan, Robbinsdale Armstrong and Tracy-Milroy (Balaton).
Marshall head coach Dan Westby, a Hall of Famer who has been in charge of all eight title teams, gave all the credit to his players.
“Certainly we're proud of the tradition that Marshall volleyball has with 31 state tournament trips, which is more than any other school,” he said. “I'm just a small part of that. Tonight I felt like I could just sit there and be a fan. I thought our kids were that dialed in. And that record will be tied and eventually broken someday but it feels good right now to be able to say that Marshall has the most. That feels great.”
Marshall won all three matches at state by 3-0 scores, which is something they are familiar with. In regular-season non-tournament play, they won 63 sets and lost none (regular-season tournament matches require victories in two sets to win). The Tigers finished with a record of 33-2, with both losses coming in tournaments against 4A state runner-up Lakeville North.
Against Benilde-St. Margaret’s (25-8), Marshall won the first set 25-18 and the second 25-11. The Red Knights put up a strong fight in the third set before the Tigers clinched it with a 25-18 win.
“I think we fought, I think we fought really hard,” said Red Knights coach Michael Becker. “And I think when you look at our defensive efforts and what a team like Marshall is capable of doing, we fought hard. But one of the things that a team like Marshall tries to do is overwhelm you. And I think that we, for the majority of the match, were able to stay composed and to continue to fight hard.”
Minneota Wins Fourth Class 1A Crown
A year after being swept by Mayer Lutheran in three sets in the 1A title match, Minneota turned the tables to capture the 2022 title. The Vikings didn’t sweep, although they won the first two sets, and the fifth set was hairy with Mayer Lutheran being at match point three times before the Vikings rallied to win their fourth title.
The Vikings played four five-set matches before coming to state and won all of them. “That's all credit to these kids, all 14 of them,” Minneota coach Hayley Fruin said. “They're mentally tough and they don't play scared.”
The powerful start was key for Minneota, which won the opening two sets by identical 25-23 scores.
“I was so glad to see these girls who hadn't played here before rise up to the occasion,” Fruin said. “I think we just played loose and we came out ready to go. We've talked about this for the last few matches; we have just not started strong and we did in those first two sets today. We started and we just kept rolling. So I was really proud of this team's effort today.”
Mayer Lutheran won the third and fourth sets 25-20 and 25-19. The fifth-set score was 18-16.
Cannon Falls Sweeps To 2A Championship
Second-seeded Cannon Falls rolled to a 25-17, 25-18, 25-21 victory over top-seeded Pequot Lakes in the 2A final between teams looking for their first state title.
The Bombers lost their first two matches of the season and came into the state tournament with a record of 26-7. They didn’t lose a set at state, defeating Pipestone, Annandale and Pequot Lakes 3-0.
“I just think this is a team that came together and grew all season, and we peaked at the right time,” said Bombers coach Melissa Huseth. “When we started out we had some new players on the court and we just needed time to develop our team chemistry, to develop our trust. And we did that, we worked hard in practice. They responded to one another, they spent time together. And I just think that we're playing our best ball right now because we care about each other, we truly care about each other, and we want what's best for each other.”
Pequot Lakes coach Christine Ganley said her players were nervous.
“I think the nerves got the best of us and (Cannon Falls’) nerves didn't bother them,” she said. “The Cannon Falls defense was excellent. We found a couple of zones to hit, but not as many as we normally do. But I saw hitters make errors that they don't normally make on our team, and I'm sure it was nerves.
“It's a great experience for the girls. That's what I'm most proud of, that these 15 girls got to experience this. It's fantastic. It's a memory and that's what we're about. High school sports is about creating memories with friends and family and they've had a great time.”
Wayzata Wins Once More in 4A
Wayzata swept Lakeville North 26-24, 25-12, 25-23 to win its third Class 4A state title. The Trojans also won championships in 2019 and 2021 (there was no tournament in 2020 due to Covid). They finished this season with a record of 30-4.
For the first time in tournament history, the lead referees in all four state championship matches were female: Louise Beaman of St. Paul Park in 1A, Sunny Bowman of Crookston in 2A, Gail Simones of Sartell in 3A and Robbie Goodmund of Marshall in 4A. Congratulations to all the officials who worked at the state tournament.
State Volleyball Results
Fifth place: Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 3, Ely 1
Third place: Mabel-Canton 3, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 2
Championship: Minneota 3, Mayer Lutheran 2
Fifth place: Belle Plaine 3, Pipestone 2
Third place: Annandale 3, Concordia Academy 2
Championship: Cannon Falls 3, Pequot Lakes 0
Fifth place: Detroit Lakes 3, Mahtomedi 0
Third place: Kasson-Mantorville 3, Grand Rapids 2
Championship: Marshall 3, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 0
Fifth place: Centennial 3, Chaska 1
Third place: East Ridge 3, Rogers 0
Championship: Wayzata 3, Lakeville North 0
--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@example.com