Josh Wastvedt wanted to make Burnsville's volleyball program prominent again when he took over as coach four years ago. He is headed in that direction.
The Blaze, who had their first winning season (16-13) in nearly a decade last year, have opened the season with four consecutive wins. Their most recent victory was a three-game sweep of Chanhassen, 25-18, 25-8, 25-14. It's their first 4-0 start in more than 20 years.
"We're really excited and happy with our start to this season and hopeful to keep things rolling," said Wastvedt, whose squad will host Edina in a key Class 4A, Section 6 matchup on Tuesday night. "Being able to start off with four straight wins is a big accomplishment for them and really a reflection of the work we've put in over the last four seasons."
He has a veteran group, with seven seniors, led by 5-7 libero Corrina Benson (30 digs), 5-10 setter/outside hitter Kiylah Franke (48 kills and 34 digs) and 5-5 setter Julia Valois (80 assists, 24 service aces, 21 digs). The other four seniors are 5-6 Abby Briese, 5-10 Eleri Deaven, 5-8 Ashlyn O'Brien and 5-9 Evelynn Shero.
The Blaze last appeared in the state tournament in 2009.
"These girls are working hard to get Blaze volleyball back into state contention and are determined to make a statement," Wastvedt said.
"We've really been stressing being in the moment and keeping a good balance between being composed on the court and utilizing their high energy to increase our play."
Outside hitter Mesaiya Bettis, a 6-foot sophomore, has 60 kills and 21 digs, and 6-foot junior Julia Perrine contributes significantly down the middle.
The Blaze were one of 10 Class 4A teams with at least three wins and still unbeaten through the weekend.
"Overall, I'm incredibly proud of the progress we've made but also the drive these girls have to keep going," Wastvedt said. "They're proud of the start but not settling, which really shows the change our program has made."
Hornets hire coach
Jon Bryant has been hired as the new boys' basketball coach at Edina. He served as an assistant coach on James Ware's staff last season, when Park Center won the Class 4A championship.
Bryant played at Armstrong in high school and at St. Cloud State and Wisconsin in college. He helped the Badgers to the Final Four in 2000, when he was named the MVP of the West Regional.
Bryant was Armstrong's coach for three seasons before joining Ware's staff.
Inside the numbers
3: Penalty shot saves by Duluth Denfeld goalkeeper Cayley Larsen in a 1-0 victory over North Branch in girls' soccer.
4: Goals scored in three consecutive games by Providence Academy girls' soccer freshman forward Maddyn Greenway.
56.99: In seconds, St. Michael-Albertville sophomore Lily Van Heel's time in the 100-yard backstroke, setting a record in her home pool.
1:13.35: In minutes and seconds, New Prague eighth-grader Carolyn DeLuca's school record time set in the 100 breaststroke in the Trojans' opening girls' swimming meet of the season against Mankato East.
15:26.1: No. 1-ranked Noah Breker's winning time in the 5K boys' cross-country race at the St. Olaf Showcase. The Armstrong runner was closely followed by second-ranked Nick Gilles of Minnetonka and third-ranked Sam Scott of Minneapolis Southwest.
17:08.9: Top-ranked Abbey Nechanicky's winning time in the 5K girls' cross-country race at the St. Olaf Showcase. The Wayzata runner finished more than a minute ahead of second-ranked Sydney Drevlow of Hopkins.