Faribault Bethlehem Academy won two of their three matches at the 2021 MSHSL State Volleyball Tournament this weekend.  After breezing in the first round over Breckenridge in three sets they were swept by eventual State Champion Mayer Lutheran in the Semifinals.

Saturday they defeated Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in four sets.  The Cardinals won the first set 25-18, dropped the second set 25-15 before accomplishing 25-22, 25-16 wins.

It was fun to broadcast from the State Volleyball Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul after COVID took away last year's excitement.  I call it Volleyball Heaven because if you are a high school volleyball player your goal is to play at the X.

In the Saturday match there were a number of long volleys as evidenced by the statistics showing each team in the four set match with 125 digs.

The libero for each team had incredible performances.  For the Wolves freshman Aubrey Morrison had 42 digs.  For the Cardinals senior Mia Potter 39.

If you were only given a stat sheet to determine the winner you would think W-H-A had won the match.  They had more kills, three times more blocks and an equal number of digs.

I always say the team with the most mistakes in a volleyball match USUALLY loses.  That was the difference in this match.  A premium is put on efficiency in rally scoring volleyball.  Any mistake by your team is a point for the other team.

The Wolves had 31 attack errors, 8 serve errors, a total of 45 errors in the match while the Cardinals had 22 hitting errors, 2 serve errors, a total of 29 errors. That's a 16 point difference.

The 1:42 minute match was the final one for seniors Ellie Cohen, Mia Potter, Jennifer Robert, Madelyn Bauer, Emily Casper and Katie Seidel.

W-H-A had four seniors play in their final match Allyson Sea, Abigale Strandlie, Katie Sagen and Kali Oelschlager.

Sagen cranked out 21 kills, Oelschlager 11, Sea 10 as the Wolves had a team attack percentage in the match of .098.

The Cardinals offense was led by junior Kate Trump with 13 kills, classmate Lindsay Hanson had 12, junior Jaden Lang 10 in the match.  Their team hitting percentage was .123.

BA Junior setter Reagan Kangas doled out 36 set assists. Strandlie had 44 for Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

Trump finished the match with another double double 13 kills, 26 digs and was the only BA player to be named to the Class A All-Tournament Team.  Ellie Cohen tallied 26 digs to go along with two ace serves and 7 kills.  Freshman Anna Cohen had 17 digs.

Bethlehem Academy finished the season 22-12.  The Wolves 29-7.  The Cardinals were the #4 seed in the tournament.  They were the #9 rated team in the state in Class A in the final Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association poll which comes at the end of the regular season. I scratch my bald head over that one.

Congratulations to BA senior Ellie Cohen named to the Class A All-State team.

In the title match between Mayer Lutheran and Minneota the Crusaders played as if they were on a crusade sweeping the two time defending state champs 25-15, 25-20, 25-18.

Since 2016 only Mayer Lutheran and Minneota have been the Class A State Champions.

Last year there were no playoffs but Waterville-Elysian-Morristown went to Minneota and defeated them in their final match of the COVID year.  The Bucs finished the shortened season undefeated so in my book they were the Class A State Champs with an asterisk behind it with COVID mentioned explaining the asterisk.

It was the third time this season Mayer Lutheran defeated Minneota. The Crusaders finished the season with a 32-2 record.  Their only losses came against Southwest Christian (Class 2A #1 rated) in five sets on the road and Chaska (Class 4A school).

The efficiency Mayer Lutheran displayed against Bethlehem Academy in the Semifinals was on full display in the title match also with Ms. Volleyball finalist senior 6'2 Lily Wacholz achieving 17 kills while hitting .400 and adding 9 digs.

Junior 5'8 Gabrielle Wacholz smacked 11 kills with a .476 attack percentage.  Junior 5'8 Stella Maass collected 10 kills while hitting .154.

The team hitting percentage was .272.  Minneota hit .116.

The Vikings were led by junior 5'8 Ireland Stassen's 13 kills and .345 attack percentage.  Senior 5'10 Natalee Rolbiecki had 10 kills while hitting .109.

The Crusaders were a blocking machine with 11 total compared to 2 for the Vikings.

Lily Wacholz with 4 solo and a block assist, junior 5'11 Madeline Guetzkow had 3 solo, Maass 2 solo, Gabrielle Wacholz a solo block.

It took 65 minutes for Mayer Lutheran to become the 2021 Class A State Champions.

#3 seed Legacy Christian Academy (28-5) captured the Consolation Championship with a four set win over Breckendridge.  The Cowgirls won the first set 26-24 before the Lions achieved 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 victories.

My final Class A volleyball poll uses the MSHSL State Tournament to determine the top 8 seeds because they got there.  I realize there may be teams better that didn't make it to state but why use conjecture when you have official State Tournament results.

I looked at strength of schedules to determine those teams not involved in the MSHSL State Tournament.

Gordy's Class A Top Ten, there will be NO ties.

  1. Mayer Lutheran Crusaders
  2. Minneota Vikings
  3. Bethlehem Academy in Faribault Cardinals
  4. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves
  5. Legacy Christian Academy in Andover Lions
  6. Breckenridge Cowgirls
  7. Badger/Greenbush-Middle River Gators
  8. South Ridge of Culver Panthers
  9. Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights
  10. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers

Ms. Volleyball Award went to Julia Hanson of Prior Lake.

Team Academic Gold Awards (3.75-4.0 Cumulative Grade Point Average) have scores of teams from the Faribault area included.

Most impressive is the fact ALL but one of Gopher Conference teams achieved that status. Bethlehem Academy, Blooming Prairie, Hayfield, J-W-P, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Maple River, Medford, NR-H-E-G, Randolph, Triton, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.

Section 1A Coach of the year selection was Lonnie Morken of Mabel-Canton, Assistant Coach Sarah Attig of Alden-Conger.

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