Southwest Christian enjoys playing the best. Whether it's Class AA, AAA or A. Good competition makes good volleyball teams better.
That's why when the Stars beat 3A Minneapolis Southwest and Chanhassen to advance to the gold bracket of the Shakopee Invitational Sept. 7, there was excitement, not anguish, in facing No. 1 Eagan and eventually No. 7 East Ridge.
Southwest Christian came ever so close to doing something only two schools -- none at that point -- had done versus undefeated Eagan. Win a game. And the Stars nearly won both, 25-23 scores in each set.
The Stars did take the first set versus East Ridge, losing in extra points in the second game, eventually placing fourth.
"We love it. It's super fun to play top teams from the state. We go in and we have nothing to lose. We play our best knowing we just go out there and give it our best shot," Southwest Christian senior captain Marissa Agrimson said.
Thus far, Southwest Christian has played five ranked teams, three in Class 3A, two in 2A including defending champion North Branch and No. 6 Belle Plaine, both 3-2 defeats.
The Stars figure to see a few more ranked teams this weekend at Class AA Showcase at Midwest Warehouse in Burnsville. The Stars are the tournament hosts.
No. 3 Concordia Academy, No. 5 Kasson-Mantorville, No. 6 Belle Plaine, No. 9 Watertown-Mayer and No. 10 Pequot Lakes are in the field.
"It's a great tournament. It's always a favorite. it's exciting to play against (and see) the best double-A and single-A teams in the state. I think that really motivates us. We have to be sharp, we have to put our best out there," Agrimson said.
Southwest Christian improved to 7-5 in a three-game sweep of Jordan Sept. 19, scores of 25-13, 25-15, 25-14.
Agrimson totaled 11 of the Stars' 53 digs and serving up four aces with Felicia Luther finishing with 29 set assists.
Estelle Haugen and Mackenzie Close led the offense with 11 and 10 kills. Close also added three aces and two blocks. Southwest Christian had just two serve receive errors in 40 attempts.
"We were ready for them and we played a great game," Agrimson said of the win. "It's super great to have good competition. It pushes us throughout the year to just be better."
The Stars open the Class AA Showcase with Jackson County Central and Maple Lake at 7 and 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20.
"I think we're a real well-round team. I don't think we have many weak spots. We have really good younger players that have stepped into their role really well," Agrimson said.