Senior Alivia Garbe hoists the Class 3A, Section 4 volleyball championship trophy after helping Roseville to a come-from-behind five-set victory over Stillwater. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Alivia Garbe (27) takes aim between Stillwater defenders Kayla Gjerde (2) and Maddie Whittington (7). Garbe paced Roseville with 33 kills. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Down two sets to none, Roseville’s four-year reign in Class 3A, Section 4 appeared to be reaching its end against a budding Stillwater team Thursday night.
Five-year starting setter, Bre Maloney, admitted her shakiness from the idea of not making it back to Xcel Energy Center her senior year.
“It was definitely a little scarier,” Maloney said, adding that the unfamiliarity of having to win-out in the championship game created more nerves on the top-seeded Raiders’ side of the court.
Maloney and her teammates refused to let complacency get the best of them as Roseville mounted a 23-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-8 comeback victory over the third-seeded Ponies to clinch a fifth-consecutive state tournament berth at St. Paul Washington High School.
“The seniors just refuse to lose and that’s what it boiled down to,” Raiders coach Greg Ueland said. “They’re winners and they embrace the competitive pressure. That’s what’s made them special the past five years.”
Boasting five seniors in its starting lineup, Roseville (20-11) bounced back from a second set where the Raiders gave up 10-straight points to Stillwater.
Maloney finished the game with 46 assists, 33 of which were finished by Alivia Garbe, who has played with Maloney since fifth grade.
"We’re best friends off the court and on the court. What you see is what you get. We’re very honest with each other, and we make each other and push to be the best,” Maloney said of her fellow senior captain.
Garbe was crucial in the third set. She tallied nine kills, strengthening Roseville’s spirit with each booming echo.
The student section reflected that energy in Set 4 while the Ponies (19-11) held a 21-19 lead.
Approaching a serve, a Stillwater player released the ball, jumped in the air and as she began to dial in the hit, the Raiders student section erupted from their seats in an effort to distract the server.
Garbe tied the set at 21-all a play later with a kill. After trading points to 23-23, the Raiders student section again distracted a Ponies server into an error that set up the set-point for Julia Deyak, who forced the fifth and deciding set.
“I love our student section, they’re so awesome,” Garbe said. "When we’re down 2-0 they don’t give up on us. We feed off them.”
Stillwater remained shaken and gave up a 5-0 run to begin Set 5, a rut the Ponies couldn’t dig themselves out of.
“We’re even teams and it’s what team got the breaks and wanted it more,” Stillwater coach Bob Fisher said. “This will sting for a little while but we will be better for having this experience.”
Maloney surpassed 4,000 career assists early this season as evidence of the senior group that’s helped entrench a winning culture at the school.
“A lot of people have become very passionate about volleyball,” Ueland said. “The community is definitely a seventh player on the court for us.”
This season Roseville has had to fight through more adversity than usual due to injuries. Even with a senior-laden lineup with high volleyball I.Q.’s, the win still took Ueland by surprise.
“In a lot of ways I don’t know how we won that match,” Ueland said. “Stillwater’s a great team and they’re going to be a great program for the next few years.”
The Raiders, who are ranked No. 11 in the Class 3A coaches’ poll, have played No. 1-3A Eagan, No. 3-3A Lakeville South, No. 5-3A Prior Lake and pulled out a 2-0 win against No. 4-3A Hopkins this season.
Maloney said that it’s no surprise when any team is playing as a cohesive unit they can be unstoppable and any team in the state tournament field has a chance of putting together a run.
“This year it’s a toss up. it’s going to come down to who has the most heart and who can go out there and get the job done,” Maloney said.
Top-seeded Roseville clinched its fifth-straight state tournament appearance in comeback fashion following a 23-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-8 victory over No.3-seeded Stillwater Thursday night in the Class 3A, Section 4 championship at St. Paul Washington High School.
Ranked No. 11 in the Class 3A coaches’ poll, the Raiders (18-11) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the final set, forcing the Ponies to play catch-up which led to a serving error for the match’s final point.
Alivia Garbe tallied 33 kills while teammate Bre Maloney posted 46 assists.
Freshman Maddie Whittington had a team-high 14 kills for Stillwater (19-10).