Stewartville repeats as Section 1AA volleyball champ

Stewartville players celebrate the Tigers section championship win over Caledonia Saturday afternoon November 5, 2011 at the Mayo Civic Center Taylor Arena in downtown Rochester, Minn. At center Hannah Tapp is lifted right off her feet by Maddie Hettinger.

Stewartville renewed its reputation as the best Class AA volleyball team in southeastern Minnesota, while Caledonia reprised its role as top bridesmaid Saturday afternoon at Mayo Civic Center Arena.

In a Section 1AA championship match between two top-10 ranked teams in the state, No. 4 Stewartville beat No. 8 Caledonia in four games, 25-22, 20-25, 25-14, 25-23. The Tigers scored the last three points of the fourth game after Caledonia had built a 23-22 lead.

It's the second straight year and fourth time in five years that Stewartville ended Caledonia's season in the section final. Caledonia also lost at this point to Byron in 2009, making the Warriors section runners-up the last five years.

It's also Stewartville's 21st section crown under Hall of Fame head coach John Dzubay. The Tigers finished third at state a year ago.

"I'm a volleyball guy so I understand what it takes (to get to state)," said Caledonia head coach Scott Koepke, whose team has had six straight 20-win seasons but has never made it past the section tournament.


"Stewartville is fundamentally the best team in this area and we're trying to get to their level," Koepke said. "We're getting closer; we just have to keep working hard at it."

Caledonia finished with a 27-5 record and had just two seniors on the team, starting libero Carli Dahlberg and starting outside hitter Katie McCarthy.

Stewartville (24-6) will open play in the Class AA state tournament Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Tigers received the No. 3 seed and will face Maple Lake (26-5) at 7 p.m. on Court 2.


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