Strike 1: A 3-0 loss to No. 1-4A Wayzata.
Strike 2: A 2-0 loss to No. 2-4A Bloomington Jefferson.
Strike 3? It's not a given, but Maple Grove faces No. 3-4A Champlin Park on Sept. 20, rounding out a series of matches against Class 4A's top three ranked teams.
Champlin Park enters the week playing at a high level. It has victories over Lakeville North, ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A in the preseason coaches' poll, No. 6-4A East Ridge, No. 10-4A Northfield, No. 2-4A Bloomington Jefferson and No. 3-1A Canby.
Senior libero Kylie Stremmel directs a strong lineup for the Rebels (8-1, 2-0) — one that includes junior hitter Marlie Hanson and senior setter Allie Koop.
Maple Grove lost top talent to graduation after a 13-1 season in 2020. But the Crimson (6-3, 1-0) have played well in 2021. Senior middle blocker Cara Cyr, junior libero Liesl Haugen and junior hitter Madeline Knutson lead the way for Maple Grove.