Forty-two kills in three sets usually means a victory in high school volleyball. For fourth-ranked Chaska, those offensive numbers came in a 3-0 loss in the Section 2AAAA championship to third-ranked Eden Prairie on Oct. 4.
So, how did the Eagles win despite being outhit?
Eden Prairie had seven aces to three for the Hawks at the service line. Add in 10 serving errors, six alone in game one, and those free points added up for the Eagles.
Eden Prairie was also stingy at big points in the match, never allowing the Hawks to score more than one or two points in a row.
Chaska held leads of 22-19 and 20-16 in sets one and three, but were unable to close out either, losing 26-24 and 25-23. The middle set saw a 16-14 Chaska advantage evaporate quickly with six straight Eagle points, an 11-3 run to win 25-19.
How close was the match?
In the first two sets alone, the two teams traded leads 11 times, and were tied 19 times.
Unofficially, the Hawks were led offensively by senior captain Mallory Heyer with 14 kills with junior captains Ella Christ and Avery Rosenberg finishing with 12 and eight kills, respectively. Senior Sam Schmidt and junior MaKina Larson each added four offensive points as well.
Rosenberg was credited with three blocks with Larson added two, while Christ had two of the Hawks’ three aces, both in set one.
Like Chaska, Eden Prairie hit from all spots on the court. Lillian Eckness and Paige O’Connell totaled 16 kills between them, while middle hitter Kendall Minta led the Eagles with 10 kills and two aces.
Piper Lange, Cameron Berger and Evelyn Skattum all played a role as well on the front line with libero Katelyn Jensen serving up two aces.
Chaska finished the 2021 season with a 22-8 record.
It is the first trip to the state tournament for Eden Prairie since 2014.
Wayzata, Eden Prairie, East Ridge, which upset Eagan, Rogers, and Lakeville North are the five seeded teams in the Class AAAA State Tournament.
FANTASTIC STATE DEBUT
Nolan Sutter was the seventh underclassmen across the finish line, the sixth sophomore, at the Class AAA State Cross Country Meet on Nov. 6 at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Sutter, who made the Chaska varsity line-up as a seventh grader, now in his fourth high school season, qualified for his first state tournament at the Section 2AAA Meet with a seventh-place time of 16:41.
He was even better at state.
An opening mile of 5:01, Sutter ranged in the high 20s, low 30s, in terms of runner’s place, throughout the 5K race.
Sutter finished 31st, his second-best career time of 16 minutes, 21.26 seconds.
“Nolan had run one race faster this season (Alexandria in 16:07). Shortly thereafter he got sick and this impacted his conference meet were he ran nearly a minute slower. He shook that off knowing that the larger goal was always state. At the section meet he still wasn’t 100% but he was certainly on the mend,” Chaska coach Nate Foss said. “Leading up to state he was very focused, calm, and collected. We talked about a strategy and how the race would likely play out. He put a significant amount of focus on the 1K prairie section of the course that is off limits to spectators. When he popped out of there, just after the two-mile point, he was in a great position/pack (upper 20s/low 30s).”
Foss said Sutter was happy with his performance.
“It was a great showing for a sophomore and will be an experience that he can draw from heading back into cross country his junior year. His sights are already set on faster times and lower places,” Foss said.