Kiylah Franke

Junior Kiylah Franke goes up for a block in Burnsville’s South Suburban Conference match versus Prior Lake Sept. 29.

The Burnsville volleyball team has shown a lot of growth this fall with its young squad.

The Blaze won three of four matches at the Centennial Invitational Oct. 2 to finish third. Burnsville followed with a three-set South Suburban Conference home loss (25-10, 25-9, 25-16) to No. 2-ranked Eagan Oct. 5.

Burnsville (11-10 overall, 2-5 in the SSC) has two league games left before gearing up for the wide open Section 6AAAA tournament. The Blaze are at Apple Valley Oct. 12 and home to Eastview Oct. 19 to end the regular season.

If Burnsville can win both of those matches, they will finish with four league wins. Those four victories would match the program’s entire win total in SSC play since 2014 (4-54).

The Blaze haven’t made the state field since taking third in 2009. There are no ranked teams in Section 6AAAA this fall. Bloomington Jefferson (11-7), Burnsville and Minneapolis Southwest (9-5) are the only teams in the field with winning records.

The rest of the field includes Edina (8-10), Minneapolis Washburn (5-9), St. Louis Park (5-9) and Minneapolis South (2-6).

So Burnsville is certainly right in the mix in Section 6AAAA. They have a 2-1 record against section foes so far with wins over St. Louis Park and Minneapolis South and the one loss to Edina.

The Blaze’s offense have been led by junior Kiylah Franke and ninth-grader Mesaiya Bettis with 232 and 230 kills, respectively. Franke also leads in blocks (22) and is second in digs (185) and third in service aces (20).

“Kiylah brings a lot of leadership and experience to our program,” Coach Josh Wastvedt said. “This comes both from her experience at the varsity level at Burnsville and her experience setting for Northern Lights. We’ve looked at her to be a six-rotation outside and a terminator and now this year we have more options with her where she can be an attacker.”

Junior Julia Valois has paced the Blaze’s offense with a team-best 315 setting assists and is second in ace serves (30). Junior Corrina Benson leads the team in digs (236) and aces (33).

In blocks, junior Evelynn Shero is second with 21, followed by junior Eleri Deaven (20) and senior Caitlyn Procko (17). Junior Abby Briese is third in digs (123), followed by Valois (116) and senior Morgan Phyle (79).

Senior Cassie Santelman is second in set assists (228), while Procko is third in kills (99).

In the loss to perennial power Eagan, Bettis led the Blaze in kills with five. Benson had 10 digs.

At the Centennial invite, Burnsville’s wins were over St. Francis (25-15, 25-11), Virginia (25-17, 25-5) and Hopkins (25-12, 25-11), while the loss was to the host Cougars (26-24, 25-22).

In the four matches, Bettis led the team with 33 kills, while Franke finished with 30.

“Bettis is an exceptional athlete with a huge future ahead of her,” Wastvedt said. “Her potential is extreme and watching her jumping ability and the powerful attack she already has as a freshman gives you chills. She can come up with plays that can keep a team in a match.”

Valois had 45 setting assists at the invite and 15 digs. Benson led in digs with 20 and in ace serves (10).

In blocks, Franke led with six and added 19 digs. Briese had 18 digs, while Valois had seven aces and Procko had 15 kills.

Section 6AAAA play starts Oct. 27.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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