Stewartville vs. Kasson-Mantorville

7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20

The field in Class 3A, Section 1 is among the most competitive in the state, and Stewartville and Kasson-Mantorville have battled for supremacy in that field for the past several years.

The teams have met in each of the past three section championship games, with Kasson-Mantorville winning and capturing a state tournament berth in 2018 and 2021. Stewartville won in 2019 but faces a difficult task in unseating the Komets, ranked second in Class 3A by the Minnesota Coaches' Association, three spots ahead of the No. 5 Tigers.

Tuesday's game, on the Komets' court, could very well be both a measuring stick for the Tigers and a precursor to a section tournament showdown.

Kasson-Mantorville (6-2, 2-0) lost a lot of talent from a team that finished second to Marshall in last fall's state tournament but the Komets always have plenty of talent waiting in the wings. Seniors Whittney Deno and Ella Babcock and junior Ellie Ask provide a strong attack; junior Abby Distad runs the offense from the setter position; and Aryss McAdams helps anchor the defense.

The Komets' losses have come against No. 9-4A Forest Lake and No. 6-2A Southwest Christian.

Stewartville (7-4, 3-1) lost six longtime starters to graduation last spring but has outplayed expectations of coach John Dzubay, who passed 1,000 career victories this season. 

Middle hitter Arianna Blohm, who has signed a letter of intent with Division-I North Dakota State, and outside hitters Emily Lamb and Allie Elliott, hold down the front line. Senior setter Hilary Minnich has held the lineup together.

For better or worse, the Tigers won't have too much time to dwell on Kasson-Mantorville before or after the game. Stewartville played (and beat) Hiawatha Valley League rival and No. 4-3A Byron before and plays No. 1-1A Mayer Lutheran after facing the Komets.