The Sartell volleyball team wrapped up an amazing 24-1 regular season by winning the Sartell Tournament Friday. The Sabres topped Princeton (25-19, 25-12), Little Falls (25-15, 25-13) and Foley (25-17, 25-18) in pool play before topping Waseca 25-22 and 25-17 in the championship game.

The Sabres returned a lot of experience to the court in 2019, including seniors Hope Grasswick, Maya Workman, Paige Mackenthun, Cali Keller, Gretta Mahowald and Faith Wettstein.

"Our core group stayed the same, as we lost only one senior from last year's team," coach Sarah Hornseth said. "We were able to pick up where we left off last year and build on that going into the season.

"We didn't really have to work on team chemistry, we were able to just hit the ground running."

Hornseth says that while she was very confident in the team before the season, the Sabres have played even better than she could have anticipated.

"We started off the year really strong," Hornseth said. "We knew Brainerd was going to be a tough competition for us with some strong returning players, and one of our first games of the season we went five with them in a really exciting home-opener match.

"We said, okay, this is going to be fun, this is gonna be a fun ride this year."

Any team with a 24-1 record needs to be strong from top to bottom, which the Sabres are. Coach Hornseth is quick to point out that Sartell has gotten contributions from the players who stand out on the stat sheet all the way to those who may not get into matches as often.

"It's a top-to-bottom effort, and I think all of our kids have key roles, not matter what they do and whether its visible on the court or not," Hornseth said.

Junior outside hitter Elizabeth Dille ("our most lethal offensive player," according to Hornseth), junior middle hitter Katelyn Hammer ("can really put the ball away), senior libero Hope Grasswick ("reads the court really well") were a few of the players, among many, pointed out by Hornseth as making a big impact.

The lone loss this season for the Sabres happened on October 1st at Hutchinson. Hornseth says that loss was a blessing in disguise.

"I think it was one of the best things that could happen to our season," Hornseth said. "There were a lot of things that happened at (Hutchinson) that our coaches had been talking about all season.

"I think it was a good thing for a team to expose those things for us," Hornseth said. "It was a good thing for our girls to know (they) are not unstoppable, and not unbeatable, and if we want good things to happen this year we have to stay humble and stay working hard."

The Sabres have won eight straight since that loss to the Tigers and should be the top seed in Section 8AA when seeding is announced Sunday.

Our full conversation with Coach Hornseth can be heard below:

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