Volleyball: Big rematches on tap in section playoffs
Players and coaches from Kasson-Mantorville and Stewartville could see this rematch coming two weeks ago, when K-M earned a convincing 3-1 regular-season victory at Stewartville.
After two playoff victories each, the Hiawatha Valley League rivals will meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the West Subsection 1AA championship match, at the Mayo Civic Arena. K-M (27-2) is the No. 1 seed, while defending subsection and section champion Stewartville (24-5) is the No. 2 seed.
Stewartville's toughest task will be finding a way to slow down K-M senior outside hitter Abby Manitz. She had 29 kills and 15 digs when K-M beat the Tigers 25-22, 25-6, 22-25, 25-22 on Oct. 16.
Stewartville beat K-M twice last year, including a 3-0 sweep in the subsection final.
In East Subsection 1AA, top-seeded Caledonia (23-6) looks to defend its subsection championship at 6 p.m. against No. 2 seed Chatfield (21-9), the team it beat 3-0 in last year's championship match. The Warriors are shooting for their sixth consecutive subsection title.
Chatfield lost to Caledonia 3-0 in the regular season, and has lost to the Warriors the past four years in the subsection final.
Aside from its two losses (one to the No. 2-ranked team in Class AA and one to the No. 4-ranked team in Class A), Wabasha-Kellogg (29-2) has lost just one game in a match all year. W-K is shooting for its fourth consecutive East Subsection 1A championship. The last time it didn't reach the section final was 2008, when it lost a 3-2 match to Mabel-Canton in the subsection final.
W-K is led by a talented senior class, most of whom played on the 2010 state championship team. M-C (31-5), the No. 2 seed in the subsection, is led by a big junior class, including hitter Belle Sand and setter Carly McCabe. The Cougars have won eight consecutive matches and 14 of their past 15.
Defending section and state champion Faribault Bethlehem Academy (21-7) brings the top seed in the West Subsection 1A into the subsection final against third-seeded Medford (21-8). FBA has won the section title in nine of the past 10 years and has won five state titles since 2003.
The only 20-win teams remaining in the Section 1AAA field will meet in the semifinal round. Top-seeded Owatonna (22-7) will play host to No. 4 seed Rochester John Marshall (21-7) at 7 p.m. Thursday in a rematch of Owatonna's 3-1 regular-season victory. JM beat Owatonna, 25-19, in the opening game of their match on Oct. 9. But the Big Nine Conference champion Huskies responded to win the next three games, 25-17, 25-16, 25-17.
No. 7 seed Faribault (13-16) started the season 3-10, but finds itself a victory away from a place in the section final. The Falcons beat 10th-seeded Hastings in five games in the first round of the section playoffs, then upset No. 2 seed Winona in five games in the quarterfinals.
Faribault lost in four close games to No. 3 seed Rochester Mayo (16-11) when the teams met in the regular season. The Spartans are playing as well as any team in the section, having won 10 of their past 12 matches, including a 3-0 sweep against Farmington in the section quarterfinals.