Volleyball State Tournament, 2022: Class AAA Championship
Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2022 - 10:46 PM
Two pieces of history were at work late Saturday, Nov. 12 when top-seeded Marshall and No. 3 Benilde-St. Margaret’s finally took the floor for the Class AAA championship match of the Minnesota State High School League’s Volleyball State Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. The matched started 2 ½ hours late because of the length of preceding matches.
Marshall was attempting to become the first school in League history to win eight volleyball championships. Benilde-St. Margaret’s, making its first state tournament appearance since 1983, was seeking the first state crown in program history.
While history had to wait, it was eventually made when Marshall was successful in its quest following an efficient 25-18, 25-11, 25-18 victory over the Red Knights. Senior outside hitter Leah Jones had 11 kills and 11 digs to help guide the Tigers (33-2) to their record eighth championship. That broke a tie with member schools Bethlehem Academy, Chaska, Eagan, Robbinsdale Armstrong and Tracy-Milroy, who all have seven.
Marshall made its first trip to the state tournament 45 years ago. In that span, the Tigers have been to the state tournament 31 times.
It is the seventh volleyball state championship for head coach Dan Westby. In addition to this season, he has guided Marshall to state crowns in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2021.
Marshall’s only two losses this season were to Lakeville North, which finished as the Class AAAA runner-up to Wayzata on the adjacent court.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s (25-8) knew it faced a steep challenge in facing the heavily-favored Tigers, but the Red Knights were upset-minded after defeating No. 2 Kasson-Mantorville in Friday’s semifinals. Senior outside hitter Lily Eigner led the Red Knights with 10 kills in the match that ended in 1 hour, 12 minutes.
Kasson-Mantorville was within a handful of points of wrapping up the Class AAA third-place trophy match with Grand Rapids in three sets. The Thunderhawks, however, wanted that prize, too. Grand Rapids stormed back with victories in the third and fourth sets to force a tie-breaker, but Kasson-Mantorville regrouped for an eventual 25-18, 25-19, 26-28, 22-25, 15-11 victory that went late into Saturday evening. Senior Ella Babcock led the KoMets (26-9) with 18 kills and senior Whitney Deno added 13 to go with 27 digs.
Senior outside hitter Kyra Giffen powered Grand Rapids (26-7) with 21 kills. Senior setter Lindsey Racine had 35 digs.
Detroit Lakes used a straight-set 25-19, 25-11, 25-17 victory over Mahtomedi to claim the consolation trophy. Senior outside hitter Jalynn Gunderson led the Lakers (23-5) with 21 kills and 16 digs. Senior setter Katherine Arnason paced the Zephyrs (25-7) with 12 kills.