The 2015 high school volleyball season officially began on Aug. 17, with matches that count starting 10 days later.
But volleyball is a sport that lends itself well to a tournament format. Most teams play a significant portion of their schedules in weekend tournaments and Saturday was the first really big day of them across Minnesota, with roughly 400 varsity matches taking place in 25 separate playdowns.
The biggest of the bunch was the 32-team Southwest Minnesota Challenge, hosted by Marshall and featuring a generous helping of the best teams in Minnesota, with a side of excellence from North Dakota and South Dakota.
The tournament was won by No. 4, 3A Lakeville South, which defeated No. 3, 3A Prior Lake in a dandy of a final, 15-25, 25-23, 16-14. The Cougars negotiated a gantlet of very good teams to win, beating defending Class 3A champion Chaska in the quarterfinals and Wayzata in the semifinals. Prior Lake didn’t have it any easier, beating Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, No. 2 in Class 1A, in the quarters and No. 1, 3A Champlin Park in the semifinals. The Lakers’ semifinals victory avenged a loss to the Rebels in late August.
The first of Apple Valley’s traditional three-pack of tournaments, the 16-team Aerie Challenge, also was held Friday and Saturday. The host Eagles took first place, beating Cretin-Derham Hall in the semifinals and Concordia Academy, which had knocked off No. 2, 2A Stewartville in the semis, 25-19, 22-25, 17-15 in the finals.
The Week Ahead
Friday: Minneapolis North at St. Paul Central, 7 p.m.
Friday: East Ridge vs. Cretin-Derham Hall, at University of St. Thomas, 7 p.m.
Friday: Maple Grove at Wayzata, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Lakeville North Invitational. 22 boys’ and girls’ teams, at Aronson Park, 10 a.m.
Eagan: Tough week ahead for the No. 2, Class 3A Wildcats. They host Prior Lake on Tuesday and play at Lakeville South on Thursday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
Thursday: Belle Plaine at Le Sueur-Henderson, 7 p.m.
Soccer • Boys
Tuesday: North St. Paul at Hastings, 5 p.m.
Saturday: Minnetonka at Wayzata, 1 p.m.
Soccer • Girls
Thursday: Lakeville North at Burnsville, 5 p.m.