Walt Weaver knows high school volleyball talent firsthand. What he had to work with this year at Lakeville North was "exceptional."
"In the history of volleyball in our state, I don't know that there has been a more talented team," Weaver said. "This is an exceptional group of athletes."
Three of his seniors -- Erica Handley (Syracuse), Laura Larson (Arizona) and Haley Walker (South Dakota) -- signed Division I letters of intent on national signing day Nov. 14. Three juniors -- Sami Flattum, Alyssa Goehner and Abby Monson -- are expected to do likewise a year from now. Goehner was the Star Tribune's Metro Player of the Year.
"You don't see that often," Weaver said. "It's fate that they all came together and played at the same time."
The Class 3A champion Panthers defeated Eden Prairie 25-21, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18 for the championship. They finished the season 32-1, losing only by forfeit to Burnsville for playing a player in too many games (junior varsity and varsity).
"It was definitely a coaching error," Weaver said. "The team handled it much better than I did. They were all gracious about it."
Weaver previously coached at Apple Valley for 31 years, retiring in 2006. He left the school with 656 career victories, two state championships (1985 and 1992 in Class AA) and a program that has been ranked in the top 10 for 29 consecutive years.
"I'm a volleyball advocate, and love the game," Weaver said. "It was extremely fun to be working with this level of athletes."Blaze hire softball coach
Aaron Vail has been hired as the new Burnsville softball coach. The former North St. Paul mentor replaces Hillary Hansen, who resigned to spend more time with her family.
"Burnsville High School feels very honored and excited to have hired such an outstanding candidate in Aaron Vail," Burnsville Activities Director Jeff Marshall said. "Aaron brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and expertise to our program. We are thrilled that he will be able to continue the outstanding tradition of Burnsville softball."
Hansen compiled a career record of 140-31 during her tenure. She directed the Blaze to the Class 3A championship in 2010.
Hansen took over the program in 2006 after Pat Feely retired. She had worked as an assistant under Feely.Top performances
• Shakopee senior cross country runner Maria Hauger won the Nike NXN Heartland Regional girls' race in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Nov. 11. The four-time Class 2A champion posted a time of 17 minutes, 33.55 seconds, over the 5,000-meter course.
• Northfield sophomore Bailey DuPay successfully defended her Class 1A title in diving, helping the Raiders earn the girls' swimming team championship Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. DuPay posted a winning score of 394.25 points. The Raiders garnered the team crown with 223 points, outdistancing runner-up Sartell-St. Stephen (175 points).