Ireland Stassen (5) pounds down a kill against Yellow Medicine East as teammate Natalee Rolbiecki looks on.

Another obstacle swept aside

Vikings drub YME; face Canby in 3A-North championship

Minneota had too much firepower and swept Yellow Medicine East 25-8, 25-10, 25-15 Friday night at Southwest Minnesota State University to advance to the Section 3A-North championship.
The Vikings (26-5), ranked No. 2 in Class A, will square off against No. 3 Canby on at 6 p.m. on Thursday at SMSU in the 3A-North. The 3A final will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Vikings are the Class A two-time defending state champions, although the run was curbed with last year's cancellation of the state tournament due to the pandemic restrictions.
"Canby is a good team and they have really good hitter that we will need to track as blockers," said senior Natalee Rolbiecki. "They will put up a big block that we will have to be ready to cover all our hitters."
Minneota started out slow against YME on the neutral floor. Tied 4-4, the Vikings then went on a 13-3 run with Natalee Rolbiecki getting three of her match-high 16 kills during that stretch.
"We cleaned up our passing to help our setters to be in system so they could deliver our hitters better balls," Rolbiecki explained about the team getting back on track. "We served more aggressively to keep the other team out of system and I think that it helped us to defeat them."
Rolbiecki, who had two aces among a match-high 28 serves, got a few additional swings from the back row and put down three kills from behind the line.
"That was mostly because our passing to start off was not the greatest," said Rolbiecki. "But as we settled down and the match went on, we got used to the atmosphere at SMSU and then our passing was much better the second and third sets."
Rolbiecki was solid throughout the match offensively and defensively as evidenced by also having a team-high 13 digs and two ace serves. Rolbiecki, who has over 2,000 career kills, notched the 1,000th dig of her career in this match, too.
But the other attackers had a superb match, too. Ireland Stassen hammered down 13 kills, many of those cross-court shots that found the open spots. She also had 11 assists and eight digs.
Abby Frie made her presence felt at the net with her height and power. Whenever YME made an overpass, Frie thundered the ball straight down for a kill. She also was disruptive on defense with three ace blocks, forcing YME to alter its approach.
McKenzie Yost chalked up 24 assists with her precision setting. She also has become a weapon as a hitter of late, notching four kills on sets from Stassen. Yost also had 11 digs. McKenzie Tolk added 10 digs.
Funny how two of the top three teams in Class A fall within the same conference and sub-section. Minneota beat the Lancers 3-1 in the late stages of the regular season to win the Camden Conference South title.
"To beat Canby again, we will have to serve aggressive and make sure our setters are in system, so our passing will have to be good," Rolbiecki noted. "I think that it will all come down to who can serve more aggressively and who can pass."

Minneota 3, YME 0
Yellow Medicine East............................................8 10 15
Minneota.............................................................25 25 25

Minneota Statistics
SERVING (good-att-aces): Natalee Rolbiecki 27-28-2, Lyzah Sussner 12-12-1, McKenna Yost 12-12-0, McKenzie Tolk 11-12-0, Ireland Stassen 5-6-0, Abby Rolbiecki 2-2-0, Dakoda Hennen 1-1-0, Grace Hennen 1-1-0

SETTING (assists): Yost 24, Stassen 11

HITTING (kills): Rolbiecki 16, Stassen 13, Frie 10, Yost 4, Ella Johnson 1, Tolk 1, Emma Bottelberghe 1

BLOCKS: Frie 3, N.Rolbiecki 1

DIGS: N.Rolbiecki 13, Yost 11, Tolk 10, Stassen 8, Sussner 2, Bottelberghe 1

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