Panthers made history with section title, first trip to state

It was a history-making season for the Park Rapids volleyball team. The Panthers repeated as Mid-State Conference champions, tied the school record for wins in a season by going 24-8 and qualified for the state Class AA tournament for the first t...

Kamree Carlson shared team MVP honors after leading the Panthers with a school-record 435 digs while surpassing 1,000 career digs and 1,000 career kills this season. R&B Grover photo

It was a history-making season for the Park Rapids volleyball team.

The Panthers repeated as Mid-State Conference champions, tied the school record for wins in a season by going 24-8 and qualified for the state Class AA tournament for the first time in school history.

Needless to say, it was a special season for the Panthers.

"I felt there was enough history with the girls I had worked with and enough experience from last year that there was going to be some success this year," said Park Rapids head coach Stephanie Hanson. "We knew going into the season to begin our journey that it would take determination and hard work. There are no words for how rewarding it is. It took hours and hours of practice and countless reps in the gym. We had the mindset that no one could stop us. When it happened, that made it even more rewarding."

Park Rapids was coming off a 24-3 season and a runner-up showing at the Section 8AA tournament. That experience paved the way for a historic trip back to the section title match and a historic trip to state this season.


In the season opener, the Panthers avenged a loss to Roseau in last year's section title match with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-21, 25-22) victory before defeating Nevis 3-1 (28-30, 25-19, 25-17, 25-10) and Crosby-Ironton 3-0 (25-13, 25-6, 25-15) in the conference opener. After dropping a 3-1 (25-19, 14-25, 25-13, 33-31) decision to Pine River-Backus, Park Rapids defeated Detroit Lakes 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-16) in a conference match, Crookston 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-14) and Aitkin 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-15) in another conference match. The Panthers were rated No. 10 in the state Class AA poll.

At the Class AA Showcase at Burnsville, the Panthers went 2-3 with losses to Belle Plaine (24-26, 25-14, 15-13) and Kenyon-Wanamingo (22-25, 25-22, 15-7), a win over Rocori (25-21, 25-19), a loss to Glencoe-Silver Lake (25-23, 26-24) and a win over Cannon Falls (18-25, 25-18, 15-9). Belle Plaine (No. 8), Kenyon-Wanamingo (No. 10) and Glencoe-Silver Lake (No. 11) were rated in the state poll at that time.

Wins over Pequot Lakes (25-14, 25-18, 16-25, 25-22) and Staples-Motley (25-15, 25-9, 25-9) gave the Panthers a 5-0 record in conference matches to repeat as Mid-State champs. Wins over Barnesville (25-20, 25-11, 25-23) and Bemidji (25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 18-25, 15-10) followed.

At the Perham tournament, the Panthers defeated Melrose (25-23, 25-15), Northern Freeze (25-15, 21-25, 15-7) and Hawley (15-25, 25-22, 15-5) before falling to No. 7 Sauk Centre (25-22, 25-17) in the championship match.

After defeating Perham 3-1 (25-17, 13-25, 25-21, 25-22), Thief River Falls 3-0 (25-11, 25-10, 25-22) and East Grand Forks 3-0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-13), Park Rapids closed out the regular season by going 3-1 at the Fergus Falls tournament with a win over Fergus Falls Hillcrest Lutheran Academy (25-16, 25-19), a loss to Fosston (18-25, 25-19, 16-14), and victories over Pelican Rapids (25-15, 25-8) and Pequot Lakes (20-25, 25-19, 17-15).

For the Section 8AA tournament, the Panthers received the No. 1 seed in the South and used wins over Detroit Lakes (25-15, 23-25, 25-8, 25-22) and Pequot Lakes (25-16, 25-18, 25-17) to return to the section title match. The Panthers secured their first trip to state by defeating Roseau 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-13) for the section championship.

"There's just nothing more satisfying than winning a section championship," said Hanson. "Doing it for the first time in school history made it even more special."

Park Rapids received the No. 5 seed for the state Class AA tournament and followed a 3-1 (25-19, 25-17, 25-27, 25-21) loss to No. 4 Marshall with a 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-14, 25-23) loss to Belle Plaine.


"It was so fun for the girls to experience playing in a state tournament," said Hanson. "For the most part, I think the girls felt pretty good about the way they played. They represented Park Rapids well."

Leading the Panthers to their historic season were senior Kaisa Coborn; juniors Kamree Carlson, Rilee Michaelson, Katelyn Weaver, Kora Just and Kayleah Breitweser; and sophomore Kendra Scholz.

Those seven broke eight individual school records. Coborn concluded her high school career by breaking school records for career digs (1,361) and career service aces (216). Carlson set a school record with 435 digs to surpass 1,000 in her career. Weaver broke school records for set assists in a season (999), service aces in a match (14) and service aces in a season (65). Michaelson pounded down 365 kills to break a school record. Just had 46 digs in a match to set a school record. The Panthers also received a Gold Academic Award.

Coborn and Carlson shared the team's MVP honor while Breitweser and Scholz shared the team's Most Improved Player award. Just was named Defensive Player of the Year while Michaelson and Weaver shared the Offensive Player of the Year honor.

Coborn, an outside hitter, had a .211 hitting percentage with 314 kills and put 335 of 352 serves in play with 50 aces and 186 points. Coborn also had 377 digs, 58 blocks and 25 set assists in 99 sets. Coborn, who also received all-state academic honors, made 43 errors in 405 chances on serve receive.

Carlson, an outside hitter who also surpassed 1,000 career kills this season, was second on the team with 314 kills while leading the team with a .313 hitting percentage. Carlson put 390 of 424 serves in play with 231 points while tallying 35 blocks and 20 set assists in 99 sets. Carlson had 32 errors in 396 opportunities on serve receive.

Michaelson, a middle hitter, finished with a .294 hitting percentage and went 308 for 348 in serves with 43 aces and 180 points. Michaelson also led the team with 69 blocks and had 293 digs and 10 set assists in 99 sets. Michaelson went 208 for 233 in serve receive.

Weaver took over the starting setter role and was the Panthers' top server by going 440 for 480 with 261 points. Weaver also had 185 digs, 45 kills and 28 blocks in 99 sets.


Just earned the starting job as a libero and finished the season with 152 service points by going 270 for 293 in serves with 34 aces. Just also played all 99 sets and compiled 382 digs and six kills and six assists while making only 68 errors on serve receive in 600 chances.

Breitweser played 99 sets as a middle hitter and had a .268 hitting percentage with 103 kills to go along with 50 blocks. Breitweser put 25 of 31 serves in play with three aces and 11 points and had 64 digs.

Scholz earned a starting spot as a middle hitter and tallied a .182 hitting percentage with 52 kills and was second on the team with 58 blocks. Scholz put 234 of 275 serves in play with 26 aces and 121 points and had 79 digs in 99 sets.

Also seeing some varsity time were juniors Noel Skadberg and Kayla Brock, sophomore Katie Burlingame, and eighth grader Riley Pike.

The graduation of Coborn will leave the Panthers will a huge position to fill. However, Hanson is counting on the Panthers to contend for a return trip to the state tournament next fall.

"Kaisa brought so much more than people realize. She was that leader who was always talking during practices and understanding what it took and putting in the effort every day to make it happen," said Hanson. "Every time you're in a competitive opportunity, you grow as a group. The effort put in allowed them to accomplish what they did this year. The journey of going to state is going to help them next season."

Park Rapids statistics

Serving: Just 270 for 293 (34 aces), Breitweser 25 for 31 (3 aces), Scholz 234 for 275 (26 aces), Coborn 335 for 352 (50 aces), Skadberg 6 for 8, Carlson 390 for 424 (45 aces), Weaver 440 for 480 (65 aces), Brock 10 for 10 (1 ace), Michaelson 308 for 348 (42 aces), Burlingame 12 for 15 (3 aces).

Service points: Weaver 261, Carlson 231, Coborn 186, Michaelson 180, Just 152, Scholz 121, Breitweser 11, Burlingame 8, Brock 4, Skadberg 2.

Attacks: Just 9 (6 kills), Breitweser 272 (103 kills), Scholz 159 (52 kills), Coborn 968 (314 kills), Skadberg 1, Carlson 803 (341 kills), Weaver 177 (45 kills), Brock 1, Michaelson 803 (365 kills), Burlingame 1.

Blocks (solo-assists): Breitweser 3-47, Scholz 7-51, Coborn 5-19, Carlson 12-23, Weaver 2-26, Michaelson 8-61.

Digs: Carlson 434, Just 382, Coborn 377, Michaelson 293, Weaver 185, Scholz 79, Breitweser 64, Burlingame 13, Brock 2.

Sets: Weaver 2,619 (999 assists), Coborn 123 (25 assists), Carlson 91 (20 assists), Michaelson 84 (10 assists), Just 49 (6 assists), Scholz 30 (2 assists), Breitweser 20 (2 assists), Brock 2, Burlingame 2, Pike 1 (1 assist).

Serve receive: Just 532 for 600, Breitweser 4 for 4, Scholz 1 for 2, Coborn 362 for 405, Carlson 364 for 386, Micharlson 208 for 233, Burlingame 11 for 12.

KaisaCoborn (1).JPG
Kaisa Coborn capped off her senior season by sharing team MVP honors after setting school records for career digs (1,361) and career service aces (216). Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALL
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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