JAKE’S TAKE: A decade of excellence in Section 3A volleyball
MARSHALL – The tradition of excellence surrounding the 21 volleyball programs competing in the Section 3A tournament has been well established over the years and has made for one of the most challenging paths to the Class A state tournament.
This year’s section tournament will close out what has been an especially dominant decade for the area with multiple teams ready and able to carry the torch of success that comes with making it out of the crowded field of section opponents and into the big dance.
Here’s a look back through an exciting decade of competition at the Section 3A tournament and a look ahead to this year’s tournament:
From 2010 to this past year’s state championship run for Minneota in 2018, the winner of the section 3A tournament has gone on to finish in third place or better in each and every state tournament save for a fourth-place finish by Tracy-Milroy-Balaton in 2015.
The Vikings, who have represented the section in six of the past nine state tournaments, have four third-place finishes to their name (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010) to go along with a second-place finish (2017) and a championship. TMB, the only other team to represent the section in this decade, has finished fourth, third (2016) and runner-up (2014) in three trips to state.
The Panthers and Vikings have met in the section championship four times in this decade, and there has yet to be a section final that does not feature at least one of the two teams. Other programs that have made it to the section championship are Adrian (2018), Wabasso (2015), Central Minnesota Christian (2014), Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (2012) and Windom (2010).
Over the past nine state tournaments, the Section 3A representative has been awarded the No. 1 seed four times, the No. 2 seed four times and has never been seeded lower than No. 3. Expect the tradition to continue in the upcoming state tournament.
As anticipated, this year’s crop of Section 3A teams is packed with multiple contenders that should make for another exciting and challenging path to the state tournament.
Of the 21 teams in contention, four are ranked in the Top 15 of QRF (Quality Results Formula) rankings with No. 1 seed Minneota (26-3) leading the way at the third spot, No. 2 seed Lakeview (25-3) at the 10th spot, No. 4 seed RTR (21-8) at the 12th spot and No. 3 seed Canby (21-8) at the 13th spot. No. 5 seed MACCRAY (20-10) and No. 2 seed TMB (18-10) are just inside the Top 25 at the 19th and 24th spots, respectively.
Of course, when it’s tournament time, records and rankings can oftentimes be rendered meaningless with dark horses emerging and making a run by peaking at the right time. Examples from this decade are No. 8 seed Wabasso in 2015 who fell in the section finals to No. 2 seed TMB, and No. 10 seed RTR in 2012 who fell to No. 1 seed Minneota. Other teams outside of the top-two seeds to make it to the finals are Adrian (No. 3 seed, 2018) and TMB (No. 5 seed, 2011).
The opening round of the section tournament will begin today with No. 6-11 seeds battling it out to advance to the round of 16.