The Shakopee volleyball team’s hopes of getting back to the state tournament were dashed Oct. 28.
The third-seeded Sabers couldn’t slow down second-seeded Chaska in the Section 2AAAA semifinals, falling in three sets to the surging Hawks (25-19, 25-20, 25-20).
It was also a match-up of two teams that have been ranked in the Class 4A top 10 all season. Chaska went in ranked No. 4, while the Sabers were one spot behind the Hawks.
The two teams met in the regular season back on Oct. 2 with Chaska winning in five sets. That win likely gave the Hawks the higher seed and the home-court advantage in the semifinals.
The first eight points of the semifinal match were indicative on how the rest of it would play out. The Hawks scored the first eight points in the first set and never looked back from there.
Shakopee earned a sweep of sixth-seeded Chanhassen (25-22, 25-13, 25-21) in the quarterfinals Oct. 26. The Sabers finished the season with a 22-7 overall record, including 7-2 in the South Suburban Conference.
The Sabers tied for second in the league standings with Prior Lake, while No. 2 Eagan won the crown with a perfect 9-0 mark.
Shakopee opened the season winning its first 14 matches, including seven in a row in the SSC. But the team finished just 8-7 in its last 15 matches, while Chaska went into the semifinals winners of 12 of its last 14 contests.
In the semifinal loss, the Sabers struggled getting into system. Shakopee sent 23 free balls over the net to Chaska, compared to just 10 for the Hawks.
Shakopee had three service aces, but none until late in the third set, which showed how well the Hawks’ serve receive was.
In the final set, Chaska jumped out to a 11-2 lead and never looked back in putting the Sabers away.
Senior Maddie Lipetzky finished with 15 kills to lead Shakopee. She was the team’s the only hitter with more than five attack points.
Senior Kate Cordes had with 13 set assists, two aces and 11 digs for the Sabers, while senior Emma Horning recorded 11 digs.
Lipetzky, Cordes, Horning are three of nine seniors for the Shakopee, including Nicole Christy, Maddie Meyer, Natalie O’Brien, Olivia McCall, Madi King and Chrissy Suel.
So the Sabers will have a lot of rebuilding to do if it wants to contend next fall in the SSC and in Section 2AAAA. The good news is the Sabers have been more than competitive in the SSC since joining the league in 2014.
Shakopee has a 50-25 conference mark in the eight years in the SSC. Going into the COVID-19 shortened season a year go, the Sabers averaged 19 match wins over the previous six seasons and then added 22 more victories this fall, so the program knows how to replace top talent.
Shakopee last made the state field in 2018 and also qualified in 2012. The program also won three straight Class 3A state championships from 2007 to 2009.