Volleyball: Mayo, Stewartville, FBA have been here before
It'll be deja vu for Section One this week at the Minnesota State High School League volleyball state tournament, with familiar faces all around the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
It'll be deja vu for Section One this week at the Minnesota State High School League state volleyball tournaments, with familiar faces all around the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Rochester Mayo, Stewartville and Faribault Bethlehem Academy were all there last year, and it's the third straight big dance for the Mayo Spartans.
Mayo would like to alter last year's script in one big way: In 2014, Stewartville and FBA came home with state championship trophies, and the Spartans did not.
"Our goal is to show our mental toughness and definitely to win state," said Mayo senior Taya McGovern.
Mayo is 27-2 and has won 20 consecutive matches, yet the Spartans will still be underdogs in their quarterfinal match against No. 2 seed Eagan at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Several of the Mayo players are at state for a third time and don't need to be reminded that the Spartans have lost in the quarterfinal round each of the past two years. Mayo finished fifth in 2013, and sixth in 2014.
"That is THE thing; we want to win that first round match," said Mayo senior Kat Maas. "We feel like Eagan is a good draw for us."
Eagan beat Mayo in two close games at an invitational tournament at Shakopee a month ago.
"They have a couple of Division I players so we know they're good," Maas added. "But we just need to have a few less errors, and we feel we can beat them."
Mayo is the only Rochester team to ever qualify for the state volleyball tournament, for the sixth time overall, and the fifth time since 2008 under head coach Deb Frederick.
• Stewartville will attempt to repeat as the Class AA state champion and add a fifth title overall. The Tigers are at state for a remarkable 23rd time in 28 years.
Stewartville is the No. 4 seed and will have a tall challenge against No. 5 seed Hill-Murray in a Class AA quarterfinal match at 5 p.m. Thursday. H-M has a starting lineup full of six-footers and the Pioneers play many Class AAA powers in the regular season.
Many of the Stewartville players are the same as last season, but the Tigers are led at state this year by Scott Willenborg, a longtime junior varsity coach who is filling in for suspended head coach John Dzubay.
• Faribault Bethlehem Academy is one of the few programs in the state with a more impressive run than Stewartville.
The Cardinals, under Hall of Fame coach Franz Boelter, are after an eighth state championship in Class A. Their first seven have all come since 2003.
Bethlehem Academy swept through the Section 1A tournament without dropping a set and is the No. 1-ranked and No. 1-seeded team. The Cardinals' seven losses were all to larger schools, including losses to Mayo and Stewartville.