Vikings fall to eventual section champs, Grand Rapids
The Viking volleyball team closed its 2013 season by falling to second-seeded Grand Rapids in the Section 7AAA semifinals last Wednesday on the road.
North Branch dropped the first set, 25-14, and the second set, 25-20, before earning a 25-22 win in set three to avoid the sweep. The Thunderhawks captured the final set 25-14 to advance to the section final against Cambridge-Isanti, where they defeated the Bluejackets in five sets to qualify for the state tournament (Class AAA).
“I expected a challenging match, which it was,” head coach Mike Selbitschka said. “I think Grand Rapids had a really good game, and we played our best but have things to work on. We had some crucial errors at critical times, which obviously led to Grand Rapids getting runs that we just couldn’t overcome.”
Sophomore Courtney Selbitschka led the Vikings with 25 kills, three blocks and nine digs while junior middle hitter Katy Trunk tallied eight kills and two blocks. Junior outside hitter Maddy Kunshier added six kills and 13 digs, followed by senior middle Ceyerra Kraemer with three kills and three blocks.
Sophomore setter Morgen Colemen recorded 35 set assists, three blocks and 11 digs while senior libero Cassie Doerr earned 15 digs.
North Branch went 20-8 this season after losing seven seniors from last year’s 20-8 team and returning just one varsity starter. The Vikings took first place at two tournaments this fall in North Branch and Mora and came back to defeat Forest Lake for third place at the Duluth East Tournament in late September. The win over the Rangers came after losing on the road at Forest Lake in five sets earlier in the year.
“Things look promising for next year as well,” coach Selbitschka said. “We have a solid group of kids coming back to make another run at state.”
By the numbers
Courtney Selbitschka led in two categories this season with 405 kills and 46 aces. The outside hitter was second on the team in digs with 242 and fourth in blocking (59). Selbitschka is within 250 kills of breaking the North Branch school record.
Trunk was second in kills at 193 and led her squad in blocks, recording 112.
Kunshier contributed 159 kills and tied for second on Viking team in aces (37) and was third in digs (210). Colemen led her squad in set assists with a resounding 688 assists, marked 37 aces, 131 digs and was third in blocks, trailing only the middle hitters, with 65. Kraemer was second in blocking with 96 and added 120 kills.
Doerr led the back row with 277 digs, while sophomore Cassie Kunshier contributed 157 digs. Junior Hannah Hubbard added 50 blocks and 23 aces on the season.
Coach Selbitschka said he was pleased with the season overall.
“At the beginning of the year I said our three goals were to become better people, better teammates and better volleyball players,” he said. “I feel each one of those goals were met. Again, we still have things to work on and improve in to go further next year, but the team really came together throughout the season several times to perform at a level we weren’t expected to be at.”