Champlin Park volleyball looked poised to advance Oct. 29 in the 5AAA section semifinal match against second-seeded St. Michael-Albertville.
The third-seeded Rebels (20-10 overall) grabbed a two games to none lead in the match but came up just short in the next two sets before dropping the fifth in a 3-2 (25-10. 28-26, 21-25, 25-27, 10-15) loss at Wayzata High School.
There was a bit of controversy in the fourth set when the Knights hit a ball that went out which would have given Champlin Park the win, but the officials ruled that the ball was touched by a Rebels’ player to give the point to STMA.
On video replay, the ball appears to have not touched a player, and the call led to the Knights scoring the next few points to force the fifth set. A block in the final set gave STMA the victory.
Defending state champion Champlin Park had won five straight section titles before the tough ending to 2019.
The Rebels dominated the first set. Senior middle blocker Hannah Prasky had a kill on a setup by senior setter Sami Hilley, and senior outside hitter Jordan Stalpes added a late ace to help with the quick start.
Freshman outside hitter Marlie Hanson had a set-clinching kill in the second set to put the Rebels up two games to none.
Eight seniors now graduate from the program that has seen much success with the group in the program. Besides the five straight state appearances by the Rebels, Champlin Park also won the first state title in school history in any sport last year.
Seniors Maddie Kopp, Lindsey Roth, Jensen Luehrs, Megan Panser, Natalie Dubois, Hilley, Prasky and Stalpes all played their final high school games.
Stalpes, Hilley and Prasky combined for over 750 kills during the regular season, and Hilley added over 480 assists. Stalpes, Hilley and Panser has over 85 aces.
Defensively, Panser, Stalpes, Hilley and Roth had over 870 digs, and Hilley, Luehrs, Prasky and Stalpes finished with over 80 blocks as a group.
There are several players who are expected to return – sophomore setter Malena Bakritges, junior outside hitter Taylor Hillman, junior defensive specialist Lexi Steffes, junior middle blocker Kyla Shedenhelm, sophomore outside hitter Ellie Schmidt and Hanson.
During the regular season, Hillman had 68 kills, 28 digs and seven blocks, and Hanson had 56 kills, 36 digs and 12 blocks. Schmidt added 20 kills and 21 digs. Bakritges had 311 assists, 174 digs and 12 aces.