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Maple Lake stays undefeated, repeats as Class 2A champion

11/11/2017, 4:15pm CST
By HEATHER RULE, Special to the Star Tribune

The Irish, with a three-set win against North Branch, became the second program of the day to defend a state title.


Maple Lake players celebrated on the court after defeating North Branch in the Class 2A championship game. Photo: Anthony Souffle * anthony.souffle@startribune.com

Maple Lake senior Amber Klug and three of her volleyball teammates who played in Saturday’s title match also played on the top-seeded softball team last spring, falling 4-1 in that championship game. 

“So we really just did not want that to happen again,” Klug said. 

But volleyball has been perfection for the Irish. They completed a perfect season – 36-0 – with a 25-18, 25-19, 25-21 sweep of No. 3-seed North Branch to win back-to-back Class 2A championships.

 “Throughout the whole season, we got every team’s best game,” senior Linsey Rachel said. “It was fun because it was awesome competition, and we obviously did not want to lose.” 

Rachel led the way with 20 kills and 11 digs. She finished the tournament’s three matches with 44 kills.

Maple Lake coach Marty Kiebel pointed to one of his team’s strengths at the tournament and throughout the season. With every rotation, they always had two or three weapons in the front row along with a solid back row, he said. 

That depth came up in the third set against the Vikings, which started as a back-and-forth affair.

“I think I said, ‘I don’t know who’s going to have the run for us,’ ” Kiebel said. “Part of that is, just because of the balance and the strength of the team.”

Even if they get a few points behind in a set, the Irish don’t let up. They trailed 14-11 in the second before winning the next seven points and turning it into a 9-1 run.

“Good teams that continue to put high pressure on their opponents tend to start to pull away toward the middle… 15 to 18 points,” North Branch coach Mike Selbitschka said. “And that’s exactly what they did to us.”

Vikings sophomore Cianna Selbitschka led her team with 14 kills and 10 digs. It was her lowest kills total of the tournament, likely in part because of the blocking efforts of the Irish from players like senior Brynn Paumen and her sister, junior Brielle Paumen.

“It was frustrating,” Selbitschka said.

The Irish have won 44 consecutive matches. Their last loss was to DeLaSalle 2-1 on Oct. 25, 2016 in a Benilde-St. Margaret’s tournament.

First report

Maple Lake capped back-to-back Class 2A state championships with an undefeated season.

The Irish (36-0) defeated No. 3 seed North Branch (29-4) 25-18, 25-19, 25-21 Saturday afternoon. Senior Linsey Rachel led the way with 20 kills and 11 digs. She finished with 44 kills in the tournament.

North Branch sophomore Cianna Selbitschka led her team with 14 kills and 10 digs.

The Irish have won 44 consecutive matches. Their last loss was to DeLaSalle 2-1 on Oct. 25, 2016 in a Benilde-St. Margaret’s tournament.

Check back later for more on the match.

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