The Medford Tigers first ever match at the State Tournament in St. Paul Thursday will be against the two time defending State Champion Mayer Lutheran Crusaders.  The MSHSL seeds are out and Medford plays Thursday at 3:00 p.m. on Court 2 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Mayer Lutheran is the #2 seed.

The Tigers are 27-5 and the Crusaders 21-9.  Mayer Lutheran lost a number of players through graduation after two years of dominating Class A.  Head Coach Joelle Grimsley has rebuilt a team that could accomplish a three peat.  The Crusaders have a lot of height this year.  They can put up a front line of 6'1, 6'1, 6'2 at the net.  Freshman 5'7 Emma Lade has taken over the setting duties and has become better with each match.

Medford is strong in the middle but like fellow Gopher Conference team Waterville-Elysian-Morristown will be at a distinct height disadvantage.  They have to be able to put up some resistance at the net while giving Mayer Lutheran something to think about.  In the Section 2A title match Gopher Conference Champion Waterville-Elysian-Morristown had just one block.

Tigers libero 5'2 Kiley Nihart does an excellent job of picking up tips and balls that are partially blocked and turning them into perfect passes.  Setter 5'7 junior Morgan Langeslag hustles all over the floor pursuing balls to turn into set assists.

Medford junior 5'9 Emma Kniefel was impressive in the Section final with a double double in kills and digs.  5'9 senior Rachael Luebbe is the seasoned veteran of the team.

Medford Head Coach MIssy Underdahl told her team before their first ever Section final to have fun because they were the underdog.

Thursday the same message will probably be delivered because the Tigers will be big underdogs.

Something tells me that's just the way they like it.

The Minneota Vikings (33-1) are the top seed and play New York Mills (30-2) in their first match 1:00 p.m. Thursday.  #4 seed Ada-Borup (30-1) faces #5 Carlton (28-2) at the same time.

On the other side of the bracket it's the aforementioned #2 seed Mayer Lutheran and Medford and #3 seed Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (26-4) plays New Life Academy (19-10) scheduled to play at 3:00 p.m.

Volleyball -photo by Gordy Kosfeld