They used to have an in-season rivalry. Now that both are in the same class, the squads are meeting up yearly in the play-offs. For the third straight season, the 1A East volleyball title came down to #7 Caledonia (1-seed, 22-8) and #10 Mabel-Canton (2-seed, 28-5). Warrior errors helped the Cougars win in 2015. Caledonia was just too powerful in 2016. The 2017 match-up was somewhere in that middle. Game one was highlighted by two things. First, M-C had six serving errors including four in the first 22 total points. Despite the miscues, the Cougars led 13-10. M-C, albeit serving hard on purpose, conceivably could’ve led by more. That led into the second highlight; Caledonia junior Katie Tornstorm had a three-point (kill, kill, block) scoring spurt. It was part of a 5-0 Warrior run, which erased that 13-10 M-C lead. Up 15-13, Caledonia never trailed again in winning the set 25-22. The Cougars regrouped in game two, leading 20-15 at one point. But Caledonia got three aces from Adrianna Reinhart as part of a 6-0 run. They went ahead 21-20. After ties at 21, 22, and 23, M-C got a tip-kill from senior Dakota Delaney, than a spike-kill from senior Savannah Slafter. With a 25-23 win, they evened the match 1-1. Game three had ties from 1 through 10. But somewhere in there, one thing became evident. If the Warriors could get a good pass to the senior setter Reinhart, and she could set up senior hitter Madisyn Heaney, what was going to happen very often was; kill. The 5’8” broad-jumping Heaney had seven slams in game three. Included were the last three points of the match, which turned a 22-21 Caledonia edge into a 25-21 win, a 2-1 lead. Momentum kept rolling in Caledonia’s favor in game four. The Warriors used Heaney, Reinhart, the size of 6’2” sophomore Emma Lange and 5’10” junior Tornstrom, and then some more, while M-C, tallest player 5’9”, tried valiantly to resist. The 2016 State Runner-Up Warriors led most of the set. With the score tied at 11, Caledonia went on a 12-3 run to lead 23-14. M-C seniors Slafter and Delaney got their final swings in down the stretch, each pounding home kills, but they weren’t enough. With Heaney getting six more spikes, Caledonia won game four 25-19, the match 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19). They won their second straight 1A East title. Heaney was the main force (game-high 20 kills, 13 digs). Reinhart (48 assists, 17 digs, 3 aces) also set up Tornstrom (14 kills) and Lange (12 kills, 4 blocks, 3 aces). Katelyn Stemper (20 digs), Rachel Welsh (13 digs), and Isabel Allen (12 digs) helped the Caledonia defense. Slafter (16 kills) and Delaney (15 kills) led M-C. Payton Danielson (8 kills, 16 digs) led the defense. Kenidi McCabe (47 assists, 16 digs) orchestrated the offense. Maddy Michels (8 kills, 11-11 serving, 2 ace), Lexi Thorson (13 digs), and Hannah Snell (13 digs, 16-17 serving, 2 aces) were of great assistance. M-C finishes at 28-6. They’ll lose two very good ones in Slafter and Delaney. Slafter can finally rest a (non-hitting) shoulder that was actually dislocated during the season. Caledonia (23-8) moved on and lost to Faribault B.A. in the Section Final 3-1 (28-26, 27-29, 25-19, 25-23). The Cardinals (16-14) are once again 1A’s top dog. Most of their losses were to AA and AAA schools. The 1AA East sub-section was won by PEM over Red Wing. Kasson-Mantorville beat PEM for the 1AA title. The Bulldogs lost to Caledonia (29-27, 25-27, 25-21, 22-25, 15-9) and Fillmore Central (25-21, 20-25, 25-16, 25-21) in the regular season. The three best teams in 1A or 1AA East sub-sections were probably Class A squads (Caledonia, M-C, FC). One has to also wonder, what if Mabel’s founders built the town about two miles south in Iowa. Just how many state trips would their volleyball team have if they didn’t have to go through, for nearly two decades, the toughest Class A Section in the state of Minnesota.
About Paul Trende