Bethlehem Academy Volleyball Faces Hayfield Thursday
The Hayfeld Vikings defeated the Faribault Bethlehem Academy Cardinal Volleyball team last year to end their season.
The Vikings and Cardinals have been ranked in the top ten in the state in Class 1A all season and when they play on Thursday at the Rochester Mayo Civic Center Arena it will be #4 Hayfield against #5 Bethlehem Academy.
Those are numbers spewed out by whatever system the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association uses to determine their rankings.
I saw Hayfield lose to Kenyon-Wanamingo in the Castle and I saw Kenyon-Wanamingo lose to Bethlehem Academy in Faribault.
I believe the most aggressive and efficient team wins. Of course you could say that about virtually every volleyball match unless one team is far superior over the other.
That is not the case on Thursday. These two teams are pretty close in ability.
Some volleyball followers have told me Hayfield has that fire in their eye and they haven't seen it in the eyes of the Cardinals.
The passion for the game is gone for BA they say.
Bethlehem Academy Head Coach Franz Boelter has probably been scratching his head too.
You would think after missing the State Tournament last season this team would be hungry to get back.
Coach Boelter says physically his team is very capable of playing some excellent volleyball but they have not been consistent this season.
Not just from match to match but within matches from set to set or even point to point.
BA will play like they are capable for a stretch and then have a flurry of errors.
The Cardinals great run of state trips from 2002 to 2012 their defense was a difference maker. They simply didn't let many balls hit the floor.
They also had a state title in 2014 and placed second in 2015.
Seven State Championships in the past 15 years and five second place finishes is an incredible accomplishment.
Since 2002 Bethlehem Academy has never missed the State Tournament in consecutive seasons.
Trips were not made to participate in St. Paul in 2010, 2013 and last year.
Hayfield Coach Jeremy Struck says his team is hungry and this group of seniors has a dream to make the State Tournament in volleyball, basketball and softball.
They are certainly capable of accomplishing that goal and play with the kind of swagger Bethlehem Academy used to play.
Call it the "Eye of the Tiger" or what you will but the fire, the passion, are definitely there.
When the two teams play for the Class 1A West Subsection Championship Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. the hungriest team will prevail.
In the Section One West Subsection Final #10 State Ranked Kasson-Mantorville goes up against #3 rated Stewartville.
The Komets are the defending Section title holders and are capable of winning but the thing that sets Stewartville apart from many teams is their efficiency.
They typically don't beat themselves and are always good on defense.
On September 28 the Tigers won 25-13, 25-16, 25-20 but Kasson-Mantorville was without their top hitter 6'0 junior Payton Suess.
In my opinion the team that blocks best wins this match and one of the difference makers for the Komets could be Abbey Bigelow.
When the 6'0 junior setter joins in the attack the Komets are hard to defend.
Stewartville senior libero Emily Rinken is fun to watch and could be the difference maker for her team.
Her anticipation of where the ball will go is impressive, allowing her to be in the right spot nearly all the time.