Alyssa Goehner, during Lakeville North High School Girls volley ball practice on Friday August 23, 2013 ] Richard.Sennott@startribune.com Richard Sennott/Star Tribune Lakeville Minnesota Friday 8/23/13) ** (cq)
It was certainly a summer to remember for Lakeville North’s Alyssa Goehner.
The 2012 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year played with the Northern Lights’ top 18-under team, helping it to a third-place finish in a national tournament in late June in Orlando.
A week later, in the Junior Olympic National tournament in Dallas, she battled salmonella poisoning, yet still managed to help Northern Lights to another third-place finish.
Two weeks later, she was selected as a last-minute addition to the USA A2 National Team, which was playing in a tournament in Croatia. The 5-10 outside hitter made the most of her opportunity, showing no lingering effects from her illness and becoming the only player from her team to be named to the all-tournament team.
World travels behind her, Goehner is back in the fold for the Panthers, looking to lead them to their second consecutive Class 3A championship.
“She is such a great leader and she lives to play volleyball,” said Lakeville North assistant coach Julie Marvets. “You should never underestimate her.”
Blaine shows for the north
While most of the top volleyball teams in the metro reside south and west of Minneapolis, Blaine will carry the flag for the north.
The Bengals have one of the state’s most versatile players in senior setter Lydia Dimke — a Purdue recruit — and a rising star in junior setter Rebecca Hawkins, who was named tournament MVP of the U.S. Junior National Championship, 16-under division, in July. With a strong block provided by 6-2 middle blocker Jess Jorgenson, Blaine has serious championship hopes.
Strong down south
With most of its schools sitting just south and west of the Twin Cities, the teams in the Minnesota River Conference rarely get their due. But few leagues can boast the type of top-to-bottom volleyball strength found in the MRC.
Jordan has long been a volleyball power and will be again this year. Still, it will have to overcome the loss of setter Lexie Chambers to a season-ending knee injury.
Sibley East has a junior-dominated squad that took some lumps in 2012 but now has the experience to give a few back. Belle Plaine looks to replace four starters from its 2012 Class 2A state tournament team, but has a budding superstar in freshman outside hitter Mariena Hayden. Norwood Young America, meanwhile, will try to break into the upper half of the league standings on the back of star outside hitter Nicole Miller. And traditional powers Mayer Lutheran and Le Sueur-Henderson have rebuilding to do, but enough talent in the system to keep from falling far.
Small school, big game
Perhaps no player opened more eyes at the 2012 state tournament than Southwest Christian outside hitter Mackenzie Horkey. She’s only 5-8, but she can soar.
Horkey put on a display of powerful, accurate hitting that helped the Stars to the 2012 Class 1A championship game, where they fell to Bethlehem Academy despite her 35 kills.
“She is easily a top five talent in the state regardless of class,” coach Greg Sayuk said.
At least three freshmen are expected to make outsized contributions to their teams. Champlin Park’s Sydney Hilley is making her varsity debut but already has a national reputation. Hopkins outside hitter Jasmyn Martin, a transfer from Bloomington Kennedy, is a tremendous leaper and natural athlete who can dictate what defenses do. Belle Plaine’s Hayden is a six-rotation player who was named to the Class 2A all-tournament team as an eighth-grader.