Stewartville outside hitter Lily Welch (12) fell to her knees as she celebrated the win over North Branch with her teammates at the end of the fifth set. Photo: Anthony Souffle * email@example.com
Stewartville junior Erin Lamb suffered a concussion a couple of weeks ago, only to return and sprain her ankle in the celebration in the section championship victory over Kasson-Mantorville, according to her coach, John Dzubay. She wasn’t able to practice until Wednesday, and that was limited.
On Saturday evening, she put away two final kills to help top-seeded Stewartville win its fifth state volleyball title with a five-set victory over the defending champions.
“Instant chills,” Lamb said of her reaction after the final point. “I just dropped to the floor.”
Top-seeded Stewartville won the Class 2A crown by defeating No. 3 seed North Branch 20-25, 25-19, 25-16, 23-25, 15-12 at Xcel Energy Center.
Stewartville, which had a 2-1 set lead, stifled a late North Branch rally in the fifth set. Lamb finished with 21 kills, and 56 for the tournament.
Stewartville (30-4) returned all but one player from last year’s team. That translated to a more experienced and more confident team.
“The expectations from the start were pretty high,” Dzubay said. “This is pretty darn special.”
Stewartville senior Kaitlyn Prodzinski, who had 18 kills, also was nursing an injury, a pulled hip flexor. To finally accomplish what her team set out to do all year long “still hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “It’s the best feeling ever.”
North Branch (29-5) was 4-0 in five-set matches in state tournament play dating to last year. It only needed to find a way to put a little more offensive pressure on Stewartville, North Branch coach Mike Selbitschka said.
Stewartville middle hitter Jolie Stecher (2) celebrated a point with her teammates in the first set. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • firstname.lastname@example.org
Stewartville proved why it’s the state's No. 1-ranked team with the No. 1 seed in Class 2A. The Tigers shook off a first-set loss to win its fifth state title in five sets, defeating defending champion North Branch on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
The Tigers won 20-25, 25-19, 25-16, 23-25, 15-12 over third-seeded North Branch. Stewartville (30-4), making its 24th trip to the state tournament, last won a state title in 2014.
Stewartville stifled a late North Branch rally in the fifth set, winning the final two points on kills from Erin Lamb, who finished the day with 21 kills and 56 for the tournament.
The Vikings (29-5) finish as the Class 2A runner-up for the second time in three years. Senior Cianna Selbitschka finished with 33 kills, giving her 82 for the tournament.
Both teams got to the championship match with quarterfinal sweeps and five-set victories in the semifinals.
Check back later for more on the match.