Champlin Park players celebrated after defeating Eagan in five sets. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • firstname.lastname@example.org
It was the ending the high school volleyball world wanted to see. And it proved worthy of every expectation.
Champlin Park, arguably the deepest team in Class 3A, outlasted Eagan, the most state-tournament tested team in the field, 25-18, 25-18, 21-25, 22-25, 15-12.
The match ebbed and flowed, darted and dipped, with momentum switching its allegiance repeatedly throughout the match.
“That was probably the match everybody was hoping for,” Champlin Park head coach John Yunker said. “Hats off to Eagan. They’re a great team.”
Champlin Park came out firing in the first set, blazing to a 5-0 lead. It was a margin the Rebels never relinquished, controlling the action to win it 25-18.
Eagan appeared to correct itself early in the second set, but back row mistakes -- passing and serve receive -- continued to show through.
Champlin Park dominated early, faltered later, then rallied to win the fifth and deciding set en route to a 25-18, 25-18, 21-25, 22-25, 15-12 over No. 1-seeded Eagan in the Class 3A championship match.
It’s the the first state championship in the school’s 27 years history.
Led by setter Izzy Ashburn, the Rebels used a varied attack to confuse Eagan’s blockers and force numerous back row errors to claim the first two sets handily.
Eagan turned the tables in the third and fourth sets, cutting down on its errors and taking advantage of Champlin Park errors to square the match at two sets apiece.
The drama continued in the fifth set. Champlin Park built a 12-8 lead, but Eagan again battled back, cutting the margin to one. That was as close as the Wildcats would get as Champlin Park scored three of the last four points.
The Rebels (32-2) got a measure of payback for 2016, when they lost to Eagan in the finals.
Check back later for more on the match.