The preliminary rounds are over. It’s time to get down to serious volleyball business.
The Class 3A section playoffs have reached the semifinals, with the championship matches also set for this week.
Among the can’t-miss semifinals are in Section 2, where three teams ranked in the top 10 are vying for one state tournament berth. On Tuesday, No. 10 Shakopee plays at No. 8 Eden Prairie, and Minnetonka — a team that has been in and out of the state rankings this season — plays at No. 6 Prior Lake.
Another round in the Battle of Lakeville will be contested in the Section 1 final Saturday in Rochester if No. 1 seed Lakeville North and No. 2 seed Lakeville South, which sits just 2 miles south, get through the semifinals. North has won all three meetings this season and is seeking its first state tournament appearance since 2012.
The Section 6 semifinals are Tuesday at Cooper. One match pits two of the metro’s top juniors when No. 2-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s, led by Northern Iowa-bound Maizy Jackson, plays No. 3-seeded Armstrong, led by Lauren Clark, who has committed to No. 1-ranked Penn State. The winner will likely get top-seeded Hopkins, which has won nine of its past 10 going into its semifinal against Edina.
All roads lead through Maple Lake. The defending champs are riding a 38-match winning streak dating to Oct. 15, 2016. The Irish still have three matches to go in the Section 6 tournament, starting Tuesday with Dassel-Cokato. Looming on the other side of the bracket is No. 5 Rocori, with a potential match between the two Saturday at St. Cloud State.
Keep an eye on No. 4-ranked North Branch. All three of the Vikings’ losses this season have come at the hands of Class 3A teams, and they should have no problems advancing through Section 7.