What volleyball fans have been discussing all season will happen this week.

The volleyball section championships will take place, with 24 state qualifiers across three classes to be determined. And not all sections are equal. The discrepancy between sections loaded with state tournament-caliber teams and others with an easier path to the Xcel Energy Center has been a topic of debate all season.

In Class 3A, the home to volleyball’s largest schools, three sections can boast of potential finals matchups that would be worthy of a state tournament. In Section 2, considered the deepest section in the state, traditional powers Chaska and Marshall were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Four teams still are standing, a number that will be cut in half after Tuesday’s semifinals, when No. 1 seed Prior Lake hosts No. 4 seed Eden Prairie and No. 3 seed Waconia plays at No. 2 seed Shakopee. The final will be Saturday.

Sections 3 and 5 are not quite as stacked as Section 2, but by week’s end, at least one deserving team from each section will be relegated to watching the state meet rather than participating. The heavy favorite in Section 3 is defending state champion Eagan, which has enjoyed the No. 1 ranking in the state coaches association poll all season. If Eagan does indeed win, Cretin-Derham Hall’s splendid middle blocker Brynn Carlson would have played her entire high school career without making a trip to the state tournament. The semifinals are at Prior Lake Wednesday, with Eagan vs. Rosemount at 5:15 and Cretin-Derham Hall vs. East Ridge at 7 p.m. Finals are Saturday, also at Prior Lake.

Wayzata’s fabulous trio of Kate Berg, Morgan Baufield and Mackenzie Groechel could suffer the same fate as Carlson in Section 5. Champlin Park has defeated Wayzata in the section final in each of the past two years and the Rebels likely could do it again, having earned the No. 1 seed in the section. Champlin Park hosts the semifinals Wednesday, with Osseo and Wayzata playing at 5 p.m. followed by Blaine vs. Champlin Park at 7 p.m.

The state tournament takes place Nov. 10-12 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Winter season starts

The winter sports season kicks off Monday as girls’ hockey teams officially are allowed to begin practices. The first date allowed by the Minnesota State High School League for games is Nov. 10.

Jim Paulsen