It's the week area volleyball teams have been pointing to all season long. Four teams from the Lake Conference, all of whom are ranked in the top 10 of Class 3A, will be battling each other for one coveted state tournament spot.
The Section 6-3A semifinals will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 30 as the No. 1-seed Eden Prairie will play the No. 4-seed Minnetonka, and the No. 2-seed Hopkins will play the No. 3-seed Wayzata.
Hopkins was the only team of the four to drop a game in the quarterfinal round. The Royals lost game one 15-25 to the No. 7-seed Edina, but rallied to win the next three games rather easily by scores of 25-17, 25-8 and 25-10.
The Royals' opponent this Tuesday, Wayzata, didn't play flawlessly in its quarterfinal match against Robbinsdale Armstrong, but did sweep the match by scores of 25-16, 25-23 and 25-13.
The Trojans were playing without their best back row player and starting libero Lauren Houg, who hurt her left ankle in practice a day before the game.
"She rolled her ankle in the last 10 minutes of practice. It doesn't look too bad and there's a chance she'll be ready for Tuesday," Trojans head coach Scott Jackson said. "She's going to do everything she can and just knowing her I wouldn't count her out of it. We just have to take it day by day and hope she's ready for Tuesday."
Senior Taylor Krienke, who is normally in Wayzata's rotation as an outside hitter, filled in for Houg at the libero position last week against Armstrong.
If Houg is unable to go this week, Jackson will again turn to the senior to stabilize the team's back row.
"Taylor did what we needed her to do for us to win," Jackson said. "If she's called on Tuesday, I know she'll be ready to go."
The Trojans will be looking for big offensive performances this week from senior Natalie Wilson, junior Mariah Halvorsen and sophomore Tia Dille-Starks with senior setter Lauren Watne distributing the ball.
Halvorsen led the way in Wayzata's win over Armstrong last week as she recorded 13 kills, including five in the match-clinching third game.
The Trojans trailed for most of the second game, but were able to win six of the final nine points to record the 25-23 victory.
Dille-Starks had two kills during that crucial stretch, Krienke tossed in a service ace, and Halvorsen added three kills including one off the Armstrong block on game point.
Wilson finished with nine kills on the night, while Dille-Starks added seven kills.
The Hopkins and Wayzata semifinal match on Tuesday should be a competitive one.
It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season as they split their two best of five matches in Lake Conference play.
Hopkins then defeated Wayzata in a best of three match at the St. Michael-Albertville Tournament on Oct. 6.
"It's going to come down to who shows up and plays better that night," Jackson said. "We both know each other really well obviously. They know our matchups and we know their matchups so we'll see what happens."
The Royals and Trojans will be the second semifinal game on Tuesday at Benilde-St. Margaret's with an estimated start time of 7 p.m.
The first semifinal of the night will feature Eden Prairie and Minnetonka, who are both coming off impressive quarterfinal victories.
On paper it appeared that Minnetonka had the toughest quarterfinal match against a 17-9 Minneapolis Southwest team, but the Skippers cruised to an easy victory by scores of 25-12, 25-17 and 25-22.
Junior Hannah Weidner led the way with 20 kills for the Skippers, while junior Mikaela Purnell and sophomore Carolina Shelquist each chipped in with nine kills apiece.
Eighth-grade setter Isabelle Aragon-Menzel added 35 assists in the win.
The Skippers will be underdogs against Eden Prairie on Tuesday, but they have shown the ability to play competitively with the Eagles.
In the Eden Prairie Tournament in early September, the Skippers almost upset the Eagles before falling two games to one in a best of three match with an 18-16 score in the third and deciding set.
The two semifinal winners will play in the section championship match at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at Benilde-St. Margaret's.