An excitement was in the Lakeville South gymnasium from the beginning of Wednesday night’s section 3AAA semi-finals double header. That feeling wouldn’t leave until the end of the second match. In what could be argued as one of the most electric nights of volleyball this season, Lakeville in itself comes out victorious.
In a literal sense, Lakeville North topped Eagan in the early match while Lakeville South beat Bloomington Jefferson for the second time this season. In figurative sense, Lakeville proved success still goes through them. With close to a capacity crowd looking on including area coaches of various sports and several other volleyball clubs and school teams, Lakeville completed a clean sweep of competition. Now North and South will meet up Saturday in the section finals.
After a frustrating loss to Eagan earlier in the regular season, Lakeville North came out with a sense of purpose. That intensity had been lost on the Panthers the last couple of weeks in the regular season after tough losses to top caliber competition, including the Wildcats.
Relying heavily on All-American Alyssa Goehner all season, the Panthers again went to her Wednesday. Goehner was up to the task. Guiding her team through three back-and-forth games, Goehner was every bit of a “big game” player the Panthers needed.
Lakeville North advances to the section finals, topping Eagan 25-22, 25-21, 25-22.
For Lakeville South, it was the four pronged offensive attack of McKell Anderson, Jade and Jazzmyn Tingelhoff and Monica Turner. Kaitlin VanWinkle also contributed in dominating fashion by being a force on the net against Bloomington Jefferson. Not far from what she normally does on a day-to-day basis.
After watching what Lakeville North was able to do with Eagan, Lakeville South knew that if they were to visit their crosstown rivals in the section championship, they were going to have to take care of business against Jefferson.
That’s exactly what they did.
In what was probably one of the most emotionally draining matches of the season for the Cougars, they were able to do away with the Jaguars in four games.
Just like their previous meeting of the season, the Cougars stumbled out of the gate, but were able to fight back. Drawing the score back level late in game one, the Cougars couldn’t finish their run and ended up falling 1-0.
But a surge of momentum to open things up in game two was enough to give them the confidence to fight through the remainder of the match.
Drawing off incredible net play and what head coach Jen Nelson calls a test of “grit and determination” the Cougars fought through it all. The emotion of the moment, the expectations of an on looking crowd and their own sense of what they’re capable of accomplishing.
Finishing the match 3-1 (24-26, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22), the Cougars will meet up with the Panthers Saturday, in what appears to be the premiere section championship game of the year.
As it was stated by several people, several times on the court following the night’s final match:
“At least a Lakeville team will be headed to state.”
By Kyle Zander