Natalie Rolbiecki at the net.

Volleyball girls finish sixth at Marshall

Every team needs time to develop its identity, to connect with each other and to make its own statement.
Minneota is doing just that!
After a sixth place finish (three wins, two losses) at the Marshall Tournament last weekend and big 3-0 win over MACCRAY Tuesday, this team is beginning to solidify.
“We played great this weekend,” said Coach Hayley Fruin. They beat Elk River in the opener, 25-19; 23-25 and 15-10.
In the second round, they found a familiar opponent, Waconia, and downed the Wildcats, 27-25 and 25-23.
Both wins Friday night were not easy. But the Vikings stayed with the two larger schools and despite close contests, were able to pull out a pair of wins.
“Overall, we are starting to connect with our setter on our timing and the back row is a lot more comfortable with one another,” said Coach Fruin.
Setter Morgan Kockleman has learned her hitters well and the passing to the junior setter has allowed the hitters to take strong swings at the net.
Saturday was a little tougher. They lost to the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3A, Champlin Park.
This team had just defeated a tough Tracy-Milroy-Balaton squad. Minneota lost 25-15 and 25-16.
But it was a lesson learned and a chance to see tough competition. The Vikings will host Tracy-Milroy-Balaton in a vital contest next Thursday in Minneota.
But Minneota bounced back with another tough contest but outlasted East Ridge of Woodbury, 24-26; 32-30 and 15-13.
It was a narrow escape, but an escape just the same.
“Everyone stepped up their game this weekend and we battled hard with every team,” said Coach Fruin.
After the energy-draining win over East Ridge, the Vikings took on host Marshall in the fifth place game.
They lost to Marshall, 25-21 and 25-21 but made a big statement about staying with larger schools.
Throughout the weekend the Vikings relied on two hitters, Lydia Sussner and Lizzy Gillingham. Both responded with 43 kills each as they led the work at the net. Sussner also had seven blocks and Sydney Larson added three.
In the backcourt, freshman Abby Hennen patrolled the court like guard on duty in a foreign land. She had 90 digs — a phenomenal amount for one player. That comes down to 18 digs per game.
Perhaps one of Minneota’s strengths has come at the service line. Eighth grader Ellie Pesch has stepped up big time and she knocked down 41 of 41 serves with three aces. Kockelman was 42-42 with one ace as the setter also had 41 digs.

Minneota Statistics from
Marshall Tournament:
Digs: Abby Hennen 90; Morgan Kockelman 41; Morgan Hennen 39; Lizzy Gillingham 37
Blocks: Lydia Sussner 7; Sydney Larson 3.
Assists: Morgan Kockelman
Kills: Lydia Sussner 43; Lizzy Gillingham 43; Natalee Rolbiecki 21.
Serves: (No., good, aces) Ellie Pesch 41-41-3; Morgan Kockelman 42-42-1.

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