Volleyball: Century aims for elusive section crown

Rochester Mayo has owned the Section 1AAA volleyball tournament the last three years, but now a crosstown rival has risen to challenge for the deed. Oh, and the Lakeville teams, too.

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Century seniors Anna Lund, left, and Hannah Weidman have powered the Panthers to a Big Nine Conference crown and a 25-1 record entering the Section 1AAA playoffs. Now they'd like to add the program's first section title. The No. 2 seed Panthers open the playoffs with a quarterfinal match at home on Friday.

Rochester Mayo has owned the Section 1AAA volleyball tournament the last three years, but now a crosstown rival has risen to challenge for the deed. Oh, and the Lakeville teams, too.

Century hopes to follow Mayo's example and follow up a Big Nine Conference title and Exchange Club tournament title with a run through the Section 1AAA playoffs.

Mayo, under head coach Deb Frederick, won three straight conference titles, three straight Exchange Club tournaments and three consecutive section crowns from 2013-2015.

Century has completed the first two hurdles in 2016 and enters the postseason with an imposing 25-1 record, a 23-match win streak, and the No. 2 seed in Section 1AAA. The Panthers, under second-year head coach Brittany Weidman, are coming off a 2-0 win over Mayo in the Exchange Club final.

Century is one of three teams in this 12-team tournament with 25 wins already, along with No. 1 seed Lakeville South (25-3) and No. 4 seed Northfield (25-3). Lakeville North (19-9) is the No. 3 seed.


Lakeville South is ranked No. 2 and Lakeville North is No. 8 in the last coaches' poll. The two Lakeville teams returned to Section 1AAA last year, after a decade in 3AAA, and Mayo edged South in the 2015 section final, 3-2.

CENTURY (25-1)is a veteran team led by senior tri-captains Hannah Weidman (225 kills, 383 digs), Sydney Kruisselbrink (658 assists) and Anna Lund (189 kills, 48 blocks). They have a combined 13 varsity seasons. Other leaders are sophomores Rachel Fink (400 digs) and Nicole Lund (42 blocks), and freshman Ellianna Weirtsema (30 aces).

"Individually these girls have a high volleyball IQ's which allows them to play a higher level of volleyball, and as a team they have incredible chemistry which is a huge part of our success this season," coach Weidman said. "Right now the things going well are our serving and the amount of aggressive hitter options we have at all times in the front row."

Century has advanced as far as the section final only once, in 2009, a 3-2 loss to Farmington.

• MAYO (20-7)is a formidable No. 6 seed with a fourth straight 20-win season to its credit, and most of its losses have been to teams that are ranked in one class or another. The Spartans finished third in the Big Nine Conference behind Century and Northfield.

"It has been a good year for Mayo; anytime your team can get 20 wins is a good year," said Frederick, Mayo's 12th-year head coach. "We will start playoff week as we would any other week as all records go back to 0-0 and anything can happen."

Leaders for the Spartans are seniors Kate Holtan (379 kills, 309 digs) and Kiarra Harden (75 blocks), and junior Lexie Lang 41 aces. All three are multi-year starters.

"We have been passing well and we look to clean up our errors this playoff time," Frederick added.


JOHN MARSHALL (16-10)has a strong record for a No. 8 seed. The Rockets finished tied for sixth in the Big Nine and are coming off an encouraging third-place finish at the Exchange Club tournament.

"It was a good weekend of volleyball before we head into a tough section tournament," said Rockets head coach Jessica Stellmaker.

JM made a nice turnaround after finishing 10-17 last year. The leaders are five multi-year starters, including seniors Lillie Redmond, Jaden Jurgenson and Bridley Diggins and juniors Kayla Livingston and Karissa Helvig.

LAKEVILLE SOUTH (25-3)will make a strong bid for its first section title in volleyball, after a third place in the ultra-tough South Suburban Conference, behind No. 1 ranked Eagan and No. 4 ranked Prior Lake.

South has won six straight entering the playoffs and they've swept Lakeville North three times. South is 5-0 against section opponents but hasn't faced any Rochester teams.

South is led by 5-11 junior Jenny Mosser (551 kills) who leads the metro area in kills There is also height as you might expect, including 6-foot senior Karly Lewis (96 kills), 6-0 sophomore Jasmine Mulvihill (180 kills) and 6-3 eighth-grader Ava Moes.

• LAKEVILLE NORTH (19-9)is the No. 3 seed and comes in off a 3-2 loss to No. 5 ranked Prior Lake.

This is a youthful team with no seniors and only four juniors. The Panthers aren't exceedingly tall, with just two players who are 6-0, junior Kennedy Brady (228 kills) and sophomore Tori Thompson. Top hitters include 5-10 sophomore Elizabeth Juhnke (342 kills) and 5-11 soph Macy Winter (218 kills).


North has a strong volleyball tradition with six section titles since 2005, and state championships in 2010 and 2012.

• NORTHFIELD (25-3)is a confident No. 4 seed after a second-place finish in the Big Nine Conference. Two of the Raiders' losses were to Century (3-1) and Lakeville South (2-1). Northfield has won three straight matches and has dropped only three sets in October.

Like Lakeville North, there are no seniors on this team. There are five juniors and five sophomores. There were no stats available online, and the players' heights are not listed on the MSHSL roster.

Like Lakeville South, Northfield is looking for its first section volleyball crown.

• FARMINGTON (18-9)is the No. 5 seed after it finished in the bottom half of the South Suburban Conference at 3-6.

The Tigers went 4-4 against section foes, including early-season wins over John Marshall (3-0) and Century (3-1). But they were swept by Lakeville North, Lakeville South and twice by Northfield.

Top hitters for Farmington are seniors Emma Fahning (155 kills), Amber Ripley (140 kills) and sophomore Gina Baertsch (93 kills). Farmington won its only section title in 2009.

NO OTHER TEAMSin the 12-team section finished above .500 in the regular season.

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