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Urbaniak is Miss Volleyball

ST. PAUL -- It's been four years since Karlie Urbaniak has played at the high school volleyball state tournament, but her absence from the big stage hasn't meant that the Mabel-Canton star's performance has been overlooked.

Urbaniak was named winner of the 2004 Miss Volleyball Award on Wednesday night at the state tournament banquet at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel.

Mabel-Canton coach Lonnie Morken said he wasn't surprised by the award for Urbaniak, who has anchored his M-C teams for four years. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter was also chosen to the Class AA All-State first team for the third straight year.

"I knew she'd be in the running, and that she'd have to play well at the Apple Valley tournament this year; that's where some of the coaches from the metro area could get a good look at her," Morken said.

M-C won that Apple Valley tournament on the way to 32 straight wins; the No. 1 ranked Cougars suffered their only defeat in the Section 1A finals to No. 2 ranked Faribault Bethlehem Academy, the defending state champ.

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It's the third straight year that Miss Volleyball was picked from a Class A school. Last year the award went to Faribault B.A.'s Betty Slinger, and in 2002 it was Kelly Roysland of Fosston.

Urbaniak had over 1,700 kills in her career. She had 489 kills this season and a remarkable .517 hitting percentage. The Cougars averaged 30 wins per season with her in the lineup.

Urbaniak will play Division I college volleyball next year at North Carolina State University.

"It goes hand-in-hand with our team success, and Karlie would be the first to tell you that," Morken said of the Miss Volleyball award. "But she has definitely worked hard for this honor and she deserves it."

ALL-STATE HONORS: Southeast Minnesota was well-represented on the all-state teams.

In Class A, besides Urbaniak, M-C senior setter Brittany Pierce and Elgin-Millville senior outside hitter Candace Olstad were also on the first team.

E-M middle hitter Katie Ohm was honorable mention.

The Class AA first team includes Kasson-Mantorville senior outside hitter Cayla Schroeder, Byron senior setter Lisa Hoegh, and Triton senior middle hitter Alex Andrews.

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Faribault B.A. coach Franz Boelter was named the Class A state coach of the year. Three of his players were also on the Class A all-state first team.

Hayfield was the Class AA Academic state champion.

UNRANKED SURVIVE: It's harder than usual to judge teams by their coaches' poll rankings at this state tournament.

Half of the 24 teams -- four in each class -- were unranked in the final polls. Five of those unranked teams are among the 12 which advanced to today's semifinal matches, including Wabasha-Kellogg in AA.

Two No. 1 ranked teams are still alive, Kasson-Mantorville in Class AA, and Marshall in Class AAA. Marshall needed five games to beat No. 4 Hibbing.

Donny Henn covers volleyball for the Post-Bulletin.

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