Team heads to Marshall this weekend
by Nick Clark
Sun POST Newspapers
The test was legit.
A road trip into a sticky and steamy gym, facing a top-10 team fresh off a state tournament appearance.
Then there was the opening game, when Champlin Park park built an immediate 8-1 lead over host Roseville only to watch it vanish in a 25-19 defeat that started the match.
But it was after then, during a timeout between Games 1 and 2, that head coach John Yunker offered up a reminder of what the Rebels are expected to be this year.
The response was impressive.
Champlin Park controlled Game 2 throughout, winning 25-17. The girls then rallied from a 21-24 deficit in Game 3 to win 26-24, before closing out the 3-1 victory by taking another close game in Game 4 with a 25-23 victory Aug. 27.
“We were very pleased,” said Yunker. “We had a big lead in Game 1 and we just weren’t able to finish. But we talked about it and said ‘hey, that is not who we are trying to be, let’s go get it,’ and they did.”
The sudden reversal stunned Roseville’s crowd, many of which had arrived to help the Raiders build off last year’s Class AA state tournament consolation championship.
What they were treated to, however, may have been the arrival of another state tournament caliber team.
The Rebels aren’t ready to talk that yet. The season is, after all, only a week old. But there is no hiding the excitement of what could be this fall.
Six players are back from a year ago, including senior captains Mariya Sampson and Cally Zevnick.
In addition, the team is watching the much anticipated high school debut of Sydney Hilley unfold. Yunker said she was nervous during the Roseville match, yet the ninth-grader did nothing but impress.
“She is a special player,” he said. “She is very athletic, and you throw that into the mix with our other kids who are all good athletes, and it makes us a little more well-rounded offensively than we have been in the past. Because of that, we just harder to play against.”
The Rebels should find out just how hard this weekend.
The trip to ninth-ranked Roseville was just an appetizer in comparison what Friday and Saturday, Sept. 6 and 7 will bring.
Champlin Park is one of 32 teams that will be in Marshall for an invitational that will include most of the state’s top teams.
The Rebels were scheduled to open the tournament against St. Michael-Albertville Friday, which is a section opponent for Champlin Park. The team will then play either Lakeville South or Tracy-Millroy later Friday, and they team will get in three more matches Saturday.
“It is one of the premier high school tournaments in the regular season,” said Yunker.”We are fortunate to be able to be a part of it, and we will try and get in the top half by maybe winning that first match on Friday night and go from there. If we win a bunch or lose a bunch it doesn’t really matter, it is just a good way early to get some really good competition and see where we really stand with those teams.”
Or, more so, to find out if the Rebels might be one of those teams.
“We had a heck of a start [by beating Roseville],” said Yunker. “But it is just a start. Let’s let it all play out and see where we fall in the end.”
Contact Nick Clark at [email protected]