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VOLLEYBALL NOTEBOOK Stewartville takes edge as HVL heats up

Donny Henn

dhenn@postbulletin.com

Conference races are heating up as the high school volleyball season heads into the final three weeks of the regular season.

Stewartville took a big step toward its 17th straight Hiawatha Valley League title with an impressive 3-0 win over Zumbrota-Mazeppa on Thursday. It made Z-M 12-2 overall and pushed them two full games behind Stewartville.

Stewartville has another big conference test on Tuesday when it entertains Byron (5-1, 11-2). Also on Tuesday, Kasson-Mantorville plays at Cannon Falls.

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Wabasha-Kellogg is looking invincible in the Three Rivers Conference, after staving off Chatfield in five games on Thursday.

Elgin-Millville (10-3, 6-1) and St. Charles (13-4, 5-2), two teams trying to keep pace with undefeated W-K, hook up Tuesday in Elgin.

Rochester John Marshall had a long, fruitless trip to Mankato on Thursday, scoring only four points in a loss to Mankato West. West (13-0, 9-0) is ranked No. 5 in Class AAA.

Tuesday it's Mayo's turn to make that long drive to face the powerful Scarlets.

GO FIGURE: Wabasha-Kellogg remains ranked higher than Stewartville in this week's state coaches' association poll, despite Stewartville's 3-2 win over W-K on Sept. 16.

W-K is ranked No. 3 in Class AA, and Stewartville is ranked No. 6.

WOUNDED LION: Spring Grove has played strong volleyball this season despite the absence of one of its best players. Senior middle hitter Kayla Dehning, a third-year starter, has been on the shelf since the first week of the season with a foot injury.

Dehning pulled a ligament in her foot in Spring Grove's first match and is still in a walking boot this week. Her return is uncertain. The Lions have forged a 7-3 record despite her absence.

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WORTHY WARRIORS: Caledonia has put together a strong season outside of the Three Rivers Conference, with a pair of invitational tournament titles to its credit.

Caledonia won the La Crosse Aquinas tournament over Labor Day weekend, and last weekend the Warriors won at Waukon, Iowa. The Warriors are 14-3 after Tuesday's conference loss to Chatfield.

Caledonia's fourth-year coach Chris Miron anticipated a strong season, with four starters and seven letterwinners back from last year's 21-9 team. The returning starters and team leaders are Natasha Meyer, Tricia Ingvalson, Ashley Bearbower and Anna Bulman.

PLAINVIEW CHAMPS: Plainview entered the St. Paul Academy invitational tournament last Saturday with a 2-5 record. The Gophers came home with a 6-5 mark and the tournament championship.

Plainview went 6-0 in pool play games, with two-game sweeps over Minneapolis Washburn (15-6, 16-14), St. Anthony Village (15-7, 15-7), and St. Paul Humboldt (15-1, 15-5).

Plainview defeated Stillwater in the championship, bouncing back from a 15-12 loss in the first game and winning the next two, 15-8 and 15-8. Plainview was the only non-metro team in the tournament.

TOURNEY TIME: Mabel-Canton will play in its first invitational tournament this week at Decorah, Iowa. It'll offer a first real test for the No. 3 ranked team in Class A.

The tournament is filled with larger schools from Iowa and Wisconsin, including several that are ranked in their states. M-C will open the tournament against Postville, Iowa, which won a tournament at Lanesboro earlier this season.

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