St. Michael-Albertville’s volleyball team is on a mission to make it to the state tournament this year, and so far they are well on their way. The team is dominating in the Mississippi 8 conference, where they are currently ranked number 1 with a 7-0 record. They defeated Buffalo, Monticello, Cambridge-Isanti, St. Francis, Rogers and Princeton without having to go into a game 5 to settle the match, and they recently bested North Branch in a five-game match. North Branch is STMA’s toughest conference foe and ranked 19th in the state, compared with STMA’s 17th place ranking. The team is now 17-3 overall, including non-conference games.
“The rankings, for me, don’t mean a whole lot,” Chen said. “It helps to see where we balance out, but our goal is to get to state. We are focusing on each team coming up and we have a goal for each match.”
Chen said this year’s team has a broad assortment of ages, with 5 seniors along with several juniors and sophomores in its ranks.
“The JV upcoming is a great mix too, so we won’t be heavy on one particular age group,” Chen said. “That’s very encouraging and exciting for the program to know we’ll have a good balance for years to come for talent as well as age.”
Chen said she’s a huge believer in team versus individual when it comes to volleyball, and she said every player on her team is excelling at their particular role.
“As a team they are totally embracing the team aspect of it, and it’s paying off,” she said. “That’s one of the things that really helped us get through an amazing match with North Branch. We’ve had some struggles and they’ve relied on each other immensely.”
High School Activities Director, Keith Cornell, said the team lost a potential key contributor to an injury early this season, but he said other girls stepped up to fill that role.
“The team has a lot of depth with many different girls playing important roles throughout the season,” he said. “We are excited to see how the regular season finishes and how they prepare for sections.”
STMA volleyball faces a couple other conference foes in the first half of October, including Chisago Lakes and Big Lake. They start section play Oct. 25, where they play in the 5AAA section that includes teams from the Northwest Suburban Conference and Lakes Conference in addition to Mississippi 8. Chen said sections will include high-ranking teams such as Champlin Park, Maple Grove, Hopkins and Minnetonka.
“It’s a very, very competitive section,” Chen said. “Minnesota is an amazing hub for competitive volleyball.”
Their next game is a home match versus Chisago Lakes at 7 p.m. this coming Tuesday, Oct. 10.