Monday, November 03, 2008

Weekly Review #12: Ticket Punching

#3 posting 11.3.2008
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WEEKLY REVIEW #12: Ticket Punching
Last week 24 teams punched tickets to St. Paul. After weeks of only a few games viewed (only two); last week was a cornucopia of events. Everywhere I turned there were good players, good teams, and good matches. I sampled a few matches in each class, but most of the week was spent in AAA.
Most of the teams I saw this week I saw earlier in the year. There were a few new teams I saw---Meadow Creek and Concordia Roseville.

The week started with the civil war stunner with Lakeville South taking down Lakeville North. It was the first time the Southerners not only beat North, but it was the first time they took a set off the Panthers. That wasn't the end of the upsets. I got to see one more with Concordia Roseville sweeping home team Minnehaha in the 4AA championship.
In AAA being the #1 seed was no bonus. Owatonna, Woodbury, Blaine and Grand Rapids all were stopped short of state. Rochester Mayo returns to state after a 34 year absence, and it is only the city of Rochester's second time in the big show. Mayo was the #3 seed, but they weren't the lowest seed. That honor went to #5 seed Cretin-Derham Hall in section 4. They won twice in fivers with conference rivals #1 Woodbury and #2 Stillwater.
Two Northwest Suburban #2 seeds made the show---last year's runner up Andover is back and Osseo has returned for the first time since 2001.

Upsets were less frequent in AA and A. In fact all 8 #1s (there are two in each section) made the State tournament.

There were some interesting match ups and style differences. Early in the week versatility and balance beat the power individual. Toward the end of the week power individuals were in the
Player, school, % of earned points
Amy Braun, Lakeville North .571 vs Lakeville South
Tori Dixon, Burnsville .514 vs Eastview
These two players didn't have another teammate reach double digit points on that night.

Tia Gaffen, Wayzata, .397 vs Hopkins
Katherine Harms, STMA .429 vs Alexandria
Ashley Wittman, Shakopee .500 vs Chaska
The difference with these teams---they had at least one other player that had double digit points.

There were two contests in particular that deserved to be held in St. Paul---the 8AAA and 2AAA championships. Both contests kept fans riveted. STMA and Alex played to the maximum five and then extra points on top of that. Shakopee and Chaska played to a full gym of rabid fans. The sets weren't decided until late in the contest. It is too bad these contests weren't showcased at St. Paul. I would like to see the entire state seeded. That leads to seeding the current state tournament. This is the first year the state is seeded. Unfortunately the seeds are restricted to one through four. For some reason is is OK to give a team a #12 or #8 seed (depending on what section you are in), but heaven forbid a state team is saddled with an 8 seed. Think of the children....their whole season will be sham as they have to live with the stigma of the 8. Think of all the therapy those players will need with that slap at their dreams and self esteem. No one wants their fee-wings hurt. Do the right thing and seed full 1-8 or only seed the sections 1-4 too. Don't be a stinking hypocrite.

Some sections do a great job with programs for the sections. Sections 3, 4, and 5 all had programs with photos. Those programs are a great keepsake. The other sections I went to this week were simple sheets of paper with both rosters. As a historian and pack rat it is great to go down in my archives and look back on the old programs from the old days. They have more meaning. I hope more sections upgrade to full programs in the future.
As a further note....there were no problems or issues at any of the events, but at Minnetonka the staff went out of their way to set up a special table. So thanks Minnetonka for the help.

This was a tough call. Obviously winning a section had to be a requirement. St. Michael-Albertville had a hard hill to climb. Alexandria had the momentum and energy leading 2-1. Things didn't look rosy for STMA. The Knights broke free from a 20 all tie in set four with the last five points. In the fifth set the Knights survived a 14-10 meltdown that saw Alexandria tie the game up. STMA then held off one game point to finish with the last three points and punch a ticket to state. STMA showed grit, determination, and resiliency to get there.

Ashley Wittman of Shakopee takes the honor for the third time this season. Wittman, in the wins over Chaska, had 9 or more points in each of the set wins. When the Sabers lost, Wittman had 7 points. At 6-1 and with her leaping ability she can put the down quickly and hard. Wittman had 11 FBSO kills on the night and 11 of the 20 points late in each set (from points 20-25).

Here is the rest of the team---there are two teams and probably could be more with middles getting the short shift due to space requirements.
OH Ashley Wittman, Shakopee
OH Amy Braun, Lakeville North
MH Tia Gaffen, Wayzata
MH Lauren Grant, Eastview
RH Katherine Harms, St. Michael-Albertville
S Catherine Yager, St. Michael-Albertville
L Mollie Geske, Shakopee
OH Karlie Lursen, Eastview
OH Ari Mewhorter, Blaine
MH Tori Dixon, Burnsville
MH Ariel Carlson, Alexandria
RH Amanda Unze, Chaska
S Anna Olson, Eastview
L Grace Sanders, Lakeville South

Those are some power teams.

Next up: tomorrow