Morgan Kockelman and Lydia Sussner went up to block a shot by New Life Academy's Kate Rogers.

Vikings beat New Life in first round

•Beat New Life Academy in first game at state

“We haven’t been here since 2013,” Coach Hayley Fruin told reporters.
Minneota’s once proud state tournament tradition had fallen on tough times — thanks in large part to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s tradition.
There was a time when Miinneota players simply stepped “back on to the big stage” and resumed their run.
But now, not a single Viking had played in a state tournament.
“They were nervous, but we got the feel of it,” she said.
The new Minneota State Tournament team disposed of New Life Academy, 3-0 to win the quarterfinals and advance to the state semifinals.
They did it 25-20; 25-10 and 25-21.
“We got more used to the environment,” said junior hitter Lizzy Gillingham, who knocked down eight kills and came up with 15 digs.
On the other side of the aisle, Coach Wally Blomgren of New Life Academy was proud of his team’s effort, especially the way the Eagles came back from a 12-3 and then a 17-11 deficit in the third game to tighten it up at 23-20 before Minneota Jenny Krog landed a hard kill for the 24th point and Lydia Sussner took a nice from Morgan Kockelman and banged home the final point.
“We started to block better. We started nervous, but played out best volleyball in the third set. I knew the nerves would be there but we got sharper and were more energetic in the third set.”
Through out the match, especially in the second set, the Vikings were using the powerful right arm of Sussner to keep New Life off balance. She had six kills in the first game, 11 in the second and just four in the final game.
New Life junior hitter Kate Rogers shook her head and laughed when she was asked about trying to stop Sussner.
“I got frustrated. Three times she returned my block. I tried to think through it and figure out how to return the block on her and it was working better in the third game.”
“I was trying to get blocks on the other girls,” said Sussner, who said the passing from the Minneota back row was crisp and setter Kockelman was finding her on most occasions.
“We pride ourselves in out scrambling our opponents,” said Coach Fruin.
And for two and a half games, they did just that — until New Life’s uprising that cause a major breakdown in the Viking defense.
“I called a time out just to settle them down,” said Coach Fruin.
“Then we just tried to mix the ball around,” said Kockelman. Going to Krog for a big kill surprised New Life and that set Kockelman up to deliver the final set for a crushing blow by Sussner to preserve the win.
Sussner, who had 21 kills, also realized something had to change. “I tried to get on different spots, then tried to fly toward the net just to get something different going.”
Coach Fruin said about New Life Academy “They’re scrappy. The keep the ball in play.”
Coach Blomgren was proud of his team despite the loss, promising, “We play every game to the best of our ability. We will be ready for tomorrow. Now our goal is to win the consolation trophy.”
Rogers was also philosophical. This team was just an 18-15 record and she said, “I never expected to get to state. Now that we’re here, we will try and do a credible job.”

COACH FRUIN had much to say about the girls in the back row who made it possible for Kockelman to set the ball to the hitters.
“Ellie (Pesch) is a quiet little player out there. But she had 11 digs. She just does what she has to do, every night.” Pesch also had perfect serving.
And the team’s Libero, Abby Hennen, who had over 475 digs this year, got 21 more and many of her saves ended up as points for the Vikings.

Minneota     25  25  25

New Life     20  10   21

Minneota Stats:

KILLS: Lydia Sussner 21; Lizzy Gillingham 8; Natalee Rolbiecki and Sydney Larson 4; Jennifer Krog 9; Morgan Kockelman, Abby Hennen 1 each.

DIGS: Abby Hennen 21; Lizzy Gillingham 15; Ellie Pesch, Morgan Hennen 11 each; Morgan Kockelman 10; Jennifer Krog 4; Sussner, Rolbiecki, Emily Pohlen 1 each.

ACE SERVES: Gillingham 2; Pohlen 1.

SET ASSISTANTS: Kockelman 36.

BLOCKS: None for points.

Contact Us

The Minneota Mascot
Address: 201 N. Jefferson
Minneota, MN 56264

Phone:(507) 872-6492