Third-seeded Eden Prairie advanced to the state Class 3A volleyball championship for the second straight year, but this year the Eagles couldn’t get past rival Lakeville North.
Eden Prairie defeated Lakeville North in a 5-set thriller to earn the 2011 Minnesota state championship.
But Lakeville North got revenge by winning 25-21, 25-19, 19-25 and 25-18 in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday. The Panthers claimed a second Class 3A Minnesota state volleyball championship in three seasons.
“I’m proud of the way they played this year,” said Eden Prairie head coach Chad Becker. “We knew we’d have a target on our backs all season long and we’ve responded all year long with coming out and having to play teams not taking us for granted and knowing we have to be on our A game all the time.
“And I think just to get back to the state championship finals was a big goal for us to achieve,” Becker added. “We just wanted to go out and enjoy the moment and our 10 seniors have led us to the state championship (game) the last two seasons. So we’re really proud of the way they played.”
Eden Prairie kept it close throughout, but Lakeville North gained small but significant early leads in each of the first two games and won 25-21, 25-19 to go up 2-0.
The Eagles rallied and came back strong in the third game, going from a 9-7 deficit to a commanding 19-13 lead before winning 25-19.
The fourth game repeated the pattern of the first two, however, with the Lakeville North Panthers jumping out to an early lead and then holding it the rest of the match. Eden Prairie closed to 16-14 and 19-16 before the Panthers pulled away down the stretch.
Led by all-star junior Alyssa Goehner—who had 39 kills—the Panthers overcame the Eagles for good in the fourth game.
"My goal was a state championship and we have it," Goehner said. "So I couldn't be more happy for my team."
Senior standout Sarah Wilhite led the Eagles with a strong overall match. She had 28 kills to top Eden Prairie. Leesa Hulstrand added seven and Hannah Redman six.
Elizabeth Mohr had 45 assists. Jamie Cairncross has 24 digs and Maddie Reese 16 digs for the Eagles.
Wilhite and Cairncross were named to the all-tournament team.
Lakeville North ended the season 32-1, their only loss a forfeit to Burnsville for using an ineligible player.
Eden Prairie ended its season at 28-5.