CIANNA SELBITSCHKA

North Branch • volleyball

The sting of 2017 never really subsided for North Branch, which rolled through the first two rounds of the Class 2A state tournament without dropping a set, only to be routed by Maple Lake in the finals.

Being so close, Selbitschka said, was all the motivation the Vikings needed for this season.

“It was heartbreaking that we made it to the finals but that we lost that game,” the junior outside hitter said after their quarterfinal victory over Watertown-Mayer. “All of us had the mindset that we wanted to get back and take home a championship for the first time in our school history.”

Mission accomplished.

With the dynamic Selbitschka leading the way, North Branch battled its way through three five-set matches, including a tension-filled 22-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-17, 19-17 nail-biter over Marshall in the finals, to win the Class 2A state title.

Selbitschka was North Branch’s leader and star player, chalking up a tournament-leading 89 kills in three matches.

“It definitely took every ounce of energy we had,” said Selbitschka, a junior who has committed to play at Minnesota Duluth in college. “Every single person stepped up and proved that we deserved it.

WILL FREDERICKSON • Blaine football

It took two days and two stadiums for the Bengals to wrap things up against Eastview, but Fredrickson, a sophomore running back, was consistent through it all. He rushed 32 times for 132 yards and three TDs in a 42-14 win in the Class 6A quarterfinals.

JENNA JOERGER • Eagan swimming

The senior collected four first-place medals, helping the Wildcats to the Class 2A, Section 3 team title. Joerger won the 200 individual medley (in a meet-record 2:04.52) and the 100 butterfly, and swam on the winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.

TAVIAN LADEN • Lakeville South football

The senior, in his first year playing running back, helped the Cougars to the latest victory in their postseason surge. He rush for 145 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in a 28-14 triumph over Woodbury.

BRENDAN MCFADDEN • St. Thomas Acad. football

The Cadets’ workhorse running back, the 6-1, 210-pound McFadden pounded on the Tartan defense in a 35-6 victory in the Class 5A quarterfinals. He rushed 32 times for a season-high 210 yards and scored five touchdowns.

JAMIE NELSON • Andover hockey

The junior forward got the Huskies’ season off to a strong start by scoring two third-period goals to lift Andover over defending 2A champion Edina 4-3. Two days later, she had two assists in a 4-0 shutout of Armstrong/Cooper.

EMMA SCHMIDT • Champlin Park volleyball

The senior outside hitter was at her all-around best in Champlin Park’s run to the Class 3A state championship. In three matches, the 6-1 Schmidt, who has committed to Northern Iowa, amassed 48 kills, 43 digs, nine blocks and eight service aces.

JIM PAULSEN