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Champlin Park polishes off Elk River in Northwest Suburban Conference battle

By Ryan Williamson, SportsEngine , 09/20/17, 10:30AM CDT


Junior Emma Schmidt got the Rebels started with a team-high five kills in the first set, finishing with 11.

Champlin Park junior Izzy Ashburn goes up for a ball against Elk River Tuesday night at Champlin Park High School. The Rebels defeated the Elks in three games. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

Champlin Park outside hitter Emma Schmidt goes for a spike through the arms of Elk River's Kincaid Strain Tuesday night at Champlin Park High School. The Rebels defeated the Elks 3-0. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

For the past two seasons, Champlin Park junior Izzy Ashburn found herself setting up two-time Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year Sydney Hilley and a lineup chalked full of veteran talent.

In her third season as the Rebels’ setter, Ashburn is surrounded by a much different cast of characters. It’s a group that’s young and features just one senior.

After making the state tournament each of the past three seasons, Champlin Park has continued its run of success with no problem in 2017. The Rebels continued their strong 2017 season with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-20) sweep of Elk River on Thursday at Champlin Park High School.

Ashburn has been witness to much of Champlin Park’s recent success. The junior setter has been on the floor as the Rebels’ setter since she was a freshman. In 2015, she led the team with 576 assists as Champlin Park took third in the Class 3A State Tournament.

As a sophomore, Ashburn had a team-high 913 assists as the Rebels finished second, falling to Eagan in the state championship. This season, Ashburn has been the focal point once again as a setter. But now, there’s another player setting up alongside the future Wisconsin Badger.

Junior Emma Schmidt has added setter to repertoire. This means two different players are on the floor and able to assist the Champlin
Park hitters.

Rebels head coach John Yunker said he nearly went to a two-setter system in 2016 but opted to let Ashburn serve as the setter.

“With our lineup being newer this year, we thought this would be a better fit,” Yunker said. “We’re fortunate to have someone like (Schmidt) to come in. These girls are super dynamic.”

For Ashburn and Schmidt, this has been an adjustment. Ashburn is a natural setter while Schmidt is a natural outside hitter.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Ashburn said. “We’ve been able to mentor each other on the floor and give each other tips. It’s nice because we both know a position and are learning another.”

Thus far, the move to two setters looks to be seamless. When watching Champlin Park, Ashburn and Schmidt each flip from setter to hitter, sometimes even within a single rally. The juniors are constantly moving from one side to another and will often set each other up.

This success can also be seen on the stat sheet. Ashburn has a team-high 204 assists this season and is second on the team with 108 kills. Schmidt, meanwhile, leads the team with 137 kills and came into the match averaging 4.2 sets per set, which is second-most on the team.

While the two switch between hitting and setting, Yunker hasn’t seen the rest of the team play any differently.

“Sometimes you have different timing with different setters. But I don’t see too much of that on the court,” he said. “The girls get experience with both setters. The more you play, the better it gets.”

Other players have also had the chance to get on the floor and make an impact for the Rebels. This includes senior defensive specialist Bryanna Goar, who has been a force on the service line.

She has 16 service aces on the season, including three in the win against Elk River. With different Rebels involved, Elks head coach Theresa Brummer sees a staunch attack from Champlin Park.

“They’re more balanced this year,” she said. “In the past, they’ve relied on big guns. Now, they have players that complement each other well.”

For Elk River, it has been a struggle for the Elks to defeat the higher-ranked opponents. After opening the season with a sweep against No. 8-3A Hopkins, Elk River has lost to No. 4-3A Stillwater and the No. 3-3A Rebels.

“We need to start capitalizing more,” Brummer said. “When they make mistakes, we can’t let them get away with it. I think we learned that tonight.”

The Rebels, meanwhile, have just one loss on the season. That came to No. 1-3A Lakeville North at the SW Minnesota Challenge. As a team that has become a perennial contender in Class 3A,

Ashburn understands what it takes for Champlin Park to get back to the Xcel Energy Center.

“We have to keep doing a good job of keeping it in the present,” Ashburn said. “But we have talked about getting to that top level.”

After her time at the high-school level, Ashburn will likely have a star-studded resume. She’s already the Rebels’ all-time leader in sets. Her reward for her time at Champlin Park will be a scholarship to Wisconsin and a chance to reunite with Hilley.

“[Hilley] is a great leader,” Ashburn said. “I can’t wait to play with her again. She knows my style really well.”

Elk River outside hitter Allison Hall tips a ball over Champlin Park defenders Hannah Prasky and Izzy Ashburn Tuesday night at Champlin Park High School. The Rebels defeated the Elks 3-0. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

First Report

It was smooth sailing for Champlin Park in Tuesday’s match against Elk River.

The No. 3-3A Rebels picked up their fourth consecutive win with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-20) sweep at Champlin Park High School.

Champlin Park (10-1) continued its winning ways with its usual cast of characters. Junior Emma Schmidt got the Rebels started with a team-high five kills in the first set finishing with 11.

Schmidt came into the match averaging a team-high 4.5 kills per set.

Fellow junior Izzy Ashburn once again showed herself as the catalyst for Champlin Park’s offensive attack. Ashburn led the Rebels with 17 assists and is averaging a team-high 6.7 assists per set this season.

The Elks (11-6) didn’t take a set against their Northwest Suburban Conference foe. Elk River scored on seven different blocks, including three from senior Kincaid Strain. She came into the match averaging 0.4 blocks per game, third best on the Elks.

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