Stewartville junior Erin Lamb suffered a concussion a couple of weeks ago, only to return and sprain her ankle in the celebration in the section championship victory over Kasson-Mantorville, according to her coach, John Dzubay. She wasn’t able to practice until Wednesday, and that was limited.
On Saturday evening, she put away two final kills to help top-seeded Stewartville win its fifth state volleyball title with a five-set victory over the defending champions.
“Instant chills,” Lamb said of her reaction after the final point. “I just dropped to the floor.”
Top-seeded Stewartville won the Class 2A crown by defeating No. 3 seed North Branch 20-25, 25-19, 25-16, 23-25, 15-12 at Xcel Energy Center.
Stewartville, which had a 2-1 set lead, stifled a late North Branch rally in the fifth set. Lamb finished with 21 kills, and 56 for the tournament.
Stewartville (30-4) returned all but one player from last year’s team. That translated to a more experienced and more confident team.
“The expectations from the start were pretty high,” Dzubay said. “This is pretty darn special.”
Stewartville senior Kaitlyn Prodzinski, who had 18 kills, also was nursing an injury, a pulled hip flexor. To finally accomplish what her team set out to do all year long “still hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “It’s the best feeling ever.”
North Branch (29-5) was 4-0 in five-set matches in state tournament play dating to last year. It only needed to find a way to put a little more offensive pressure on Stewartville, North Branch coach Mike Selbitschka said.
“We lacked the efficiency to really put that pressure on,” he said. “And they [Stewartville] did a better job of digging and passing.”
The Vikings (29-5) finish as the Class 2A runner-up for the second time in three years.
Senior Cianna Selbitschka led North Branch with 33 kills, giving her 82 for the tournament.
“Knowing that our high school volleyball career ended with two second places and a first place in a state tournament is a great accomplishment,” she said.