Tonka volleyball

Minnetonka High girls volleyball captains Kali Engeman, Sarah Stolar and Skyler Germann hold the section championship trophy as teammates gather around them. (Sun Photo by John Sherman)

The Section 2AAA championship match between Minnetonka and Chaska epitomized everything that makes high school volleyball a great sport.

Prior Lake High’s gym was packed for the neutral-site game with everyone from Minnetonka wearing royal blue and everyone from Chaska wearing purple.

As the No. 2 seed in the section and the No. 6 team in the state, Minnetonka was supposed to win and ultimately did against the eighth-seeded Hawks, but the Skippers had to come from behind to do it. In five games, the final score was 25-20, 25-15, 11-25, 14-25, 15-13.

In the end, Minnetonka’s All-State candidate Skyler Germann finished off the Hawks with three well-placed kills. The last of the three was a laser that bounced off the arm of a blocker and landed outside the court.

After shedding a few tears, Minnetonka coach Karl Katzenberger said, “Skyler’s value shows up in the box score, but tonight she played her best at the end of the match. As long as she is on the court, we have a chance to win.”

While Germann pounded big kills, the hitting of sophomore Abby Stanwood, the blocking of Kali Engeman and the serving and digging of Sarah Stolar were just as important.

After winning handily in the first two games, Minnetonka clearly lost momentum in the third and fourth games. The fifth game was dicey for the Skippers, who fell behind 6-2 right off the bat. Katzenberger called timeout and settled them down, and the result was a rally that tied the score 10-10.

Chaska edged ahead 12-10, but then Germann went to work. She had two kills, and then Anysia Caille added a kill. A Chaska service error gave Minnetonka a 14-13 lead, and finally, there was another kill from Germann to end the match.

“Chaska came into tonight’s match as the hottest team in the state,” Katzenberger said. “They showed no fear at all. Luckily, we had enough left to win in five.”

“There’s a reason Chaska beat [top-seeded] Shakopee in the first round of the tournament,” said Stolar, the Skippers’ serving leader in the match. “We cut it a little bit close at the end. Skyler is a great player, and we knew she would take care of it.”

Throughout the match, Minnetonka setter Olivia Koeppen was able to get the ball to Germann in good position. And in the fifth game, everyone else of the team was looking to Germann, as well.

Minnetonka advances to state this week with an overall record of 25-6. Also advancing is Lake Conference champion Wayzata, the champion of the Section 5AAA Tournament.

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