Former Tracy-Milroy-Balaton coach Katie Gervais instructs her team at last year's Class 1A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. Gervais stepped down in the offseason and was replaced by assistant Rick Haberman. Photo by Chris Juhn, SportsEngine
Two of the top contenders in Class 1A volleyball square off Thursday night in Minneota, but only one has a shot at reaching the state tournament in November. Both Tracy-Milroy-Balaton and Minneota are expected to battle for the Class 1A, Section 3 crown this fall, something Tracy-Milroy-Balaton has claimed the past three years and is favored by many to repeat this year.
The Panthers needed to adjust to the graduation of all-state setter Gabby Gervais, who led the program to all three state tournament berths, and coach Katie Gervais. New coach Rick Haberman, who was an assistant the past nine years, seems to have found the key in junior Cassidy Smith, who has taken on the role of setter, feeding all-state outside hitter Sydney Lanoue and middle hitter Evelyn Dolan en route to a fast start.
It won’t be easy to make it four straight section titles, though, as Minneota has reloaded its annually strong program faster than expected. The Vikings graduated all-state outside hitter Natalie Herigon and all-Camden South Conference libero Amber Engels and setter Charlie Josephson from a 26-victory team. They also said goodbye to longtime coach Steph Hennen. But a past Vikings’ star — Hayley Fruin — who played for three state tournament teams at Minneota, winning a state title in 2006, has led the program right back into prominence.
This longtime rivalry of section powers led by new (and yet familiar) faces earned the nod as our pick for the Top Game of the Week.
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