There will be a new state champion in Class 3A Minnesota high school volleyball.  The #4 rated Lakeville South Cougars defeated the #2 rated defending State Champion Lakeville North Panthers in an incredible 5 set match at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.  The first set and fifth set went to overtime and Lakeville South persevered in those sets.  There were 41 ties and 19 lead changes in the match.

In the fifth set there were 9 ties and 6 lead changes.  The errors Lakeville South had against Northfield in their five set semifinal win were gone in their first set against the crosstown rivals.  The Cougars had a .404 hitting percentage in the 30-28 win.  The Panthers hit .250.  Lakeville North won the second set 25-21 holding South to a .053 hitting percentage.

Lakeville South captured the third set 25-19 thanks in large part to North having more errors than kills in the set.  Lakeville North won the fourth set 25-19 before the very intense fifth set won by the Cougars 18-16.

The difference in the match was defense.  Lakeville South had 14 blocks compared to Lakeville North's 6 and the Cougars collected 92 digs while the Panthers had 86 in the five set match.  The Panthers also had 11 service errors.

The teams split during the regular season and with the State Tournament berth the prize both teams were very aggressive.  The final hitting percentages were Lakeville South .194 and Lakeville North .147.

Lakeville North senior 6'1 Elizabeth Juhnke amassed 24 kills and 21 digs and was 47 of 48 in serve reception.  Classmate 6'1 Macy Winter had 16 kills and 10 digs and senior 6'2 middle hitter Tori Thompson 11 kills.

Lakeville South senior 6'0 Jasmine Mulvihill collected 25 kills and 22 digs.  6'3 sophomore Ava Moes tallied 21 kills and 5'10 senior Carlee Gonzalez 10 kills and just one hitting error in the match.  Cougar sophomore setter 5'9 Jasmine Weidemann had 57 assists and 14 digs.  Senior libero Alena Moldan recorded 19 digs and 7 assists.

Lakeville North finished their season 26-5.

Lakeville South (27-4) received the #3 seed at the State Tournament and opens with the Edina Hornets ( 19-7) at 11:00 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Fellow South Suburban Conference member Eagan (27-2) is the top seed and plays Forest Lake (25-6) at 9:00 a.m.  The two South Suburban teams both play on Court 1.

#2 seed Champlin Park (29-2) plays Moorhead (21-9) at 11:00 a.m. and #4 Stillwater Area (24-6) goes up against #5 Shakopee (23-8) at 9:00 a.m. on Court 2.

Lakeville South Huddles in Rochester. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld