Thursday, November 30, 2017

Wildcats vs. Eagles

For over 20 years, one of the earliest games of the girls' basketball season (and generally the opener) has been New London-Spicer vs. Eden Valley-Watkins. Also during that span, it has been a section game - whether it was in the old two-class system or the current four-class setup. 

This year, NL-S traveled to Eden Valley on Thursday this week and knocked down the Eagles in a 48-41 win. EV-W is expected to challenge B-B-E for the Central Minnesota Conference title, while NL-S is reloading in a big way after losing most of their players from last year's fourth-place (Class 2A) state tournament squad. NL-S has just two seniors on the roster! One is perhaps one of the best guards in Class 2A basketball, Shea Oman.

B-B-E's girls' basketball team faces EV-W at home on December 12. That is a game to circle on the calendar, if you haven't already!

On Friday we'll be shifting gears in a big way towards the B-B-E Jaguars wrestling team, as they host a 10-team tournament at the high school to open their 2017-18 campaign.

Also, the B-B-E Jaguars boys' basketball team opens the season at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Friday night. Make sure to check the radio broadcast schedule that was printed on page two of this week's Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Recognition! Represent!

Just saw this tonight in Twitter...

B-B-E's Morgan Gronli (senior guard, fourth-year varsity player) is the lone player from Section 5A to make the "Top 50 players in each class" list for Class 1A, as published in the Minnesota Basketball News.

...and here's a quick web story with a photo and video from a grass fire late Wednesday night west of Brooten:

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A solid start

Senior guard Jaden Gossen drives the right wing in the second half of tonight's season opener.

The B-B-E Jaguars girls' basketball team built a lead as high as 21 points in the second half tonight of their season opener on their way to a 63-49 win over the visiting Melrose Area Dutchmen.

It was rough from the get go, after the Jaguars were "one-and-done" on their first three offensive possessions. Meanwhile, Melrose Area came out firing and built an early 9-1 lead through the 14:40 mark. Macie Kirckof knocked down B-B-E's first field goal of the game 40 seconds later to make the score 9-3. The Dutchmen countered with a three-pointer for a 12-3 lead, but the Jaguars took charge with a subsequent 11-0 run for a 14-12 lead. The game-tying bucket was a three-pointer by Jenna Dingmann.

B-B-E led 33-29 at halftime.

The Jaguars look to improve on a stellar 21-9 season from last year, while the Dutchmen have eyes on a winning record after going 12-16 last year.

By the way, tonight's home crowd was TERRIFIC! I LOVED seeing the parking lot crowded with cars when I arrived about halfway into the first half. The south bleachers were almost full, while the north bleachers were at least three-quarters full. I'd rate it a crowd of at least 550 people. NICE JOB, JAGUAR COUNTRY! I hope you saved the center spread of last week's Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper, which included the winter varsity sports season schedules.

Below, video from the first half of tonight's game:

Next for the Jaguars: a tough road game at Menahga on Saturday. The Braves were runners-up in Sub-Section 5A-North last year, Park Region Conference champions (12-2) and 23-6 overall. The Braves won their season opener tonight at home over sub-section rival Pine River-Backus by a 64-52 score.
*Don't forget! This Friday is the season-opening Jaguar Invitational at the high school. The B-B-E Jaguars wrestling team is excited to host this 10-team tournament. Action begins at 2:30 p.m. Later that night at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, the B-B-E Jaguars boys' basketball team begins their season.

Come out and support your Jaguars!!


Area girls' basketball scores on November 28:
New London-Spicer 79, Paynesville Area 18
Eden Valley-Watkins 58, Litchfield 39
Pierz 48, Upsala 32
Norwood-Young America 72, Maple Lake 53
Hancock 58, Battle Lake 29
Menahga 64, Pine River-Backus 52
Lac qui Parle Valley 69, Minnewaska Area 48
Minneota 85, BOLD 50
Royalton 56, Kimball Area 39
Dawson-Boyd 44, Montevideo 41
Sauk Centre 72, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 38
Ortonville 71, Benson 48
West Central Area 59, Parkers Prairie 51
Swanville 61, Onamia 29

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In the girls' basketball season opener at halftime: B-B-E 33, Melrose 29.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Back on the court

The B-B-E Jaguars boys' basketball team was back on the court today getting tuned up for the 2017-2018 season that begins next Friday at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg. The Jaguars played at the Sauk Centre scrimmage against Osakis, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Benson and Royalton.

This year they have high expectations of improving on last year's 10-17 record.

Below is video from the tail end of the final scrimmage with Royalton as the opponent:

Don't miss a full preseason preview story on the Jaguars in the November 30 issue of the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper.

And time to give Pierz a quick shout out for their Class 3A state championship in football! Wow! They defeated St. Croix Lutheran 34-21 in today's Prep Bowl. The defense forced eight turnovers! Pierz now has two state titles to their credit in the last three years. They were also state champions in 2004 in Class 2A. Another fun fact: this year's Prep Bowl win allowed the Pioneers to enact revenge on the St. Croix Lutheran, who defeated Pierz in last year's Class 3A state semifinals.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

(Video) Children's sermon

Here's the children's sermon by Pastor Wayne Kopitzke at East Norway Lake Lutheran church on Wednesday night:

How was your family Thanksgiving?


Thursday, November 23, 2017

State rankings

The Minnesota Basketball News (MBN) just issued their preseason 2017-18 state rankings for girls' basketball. The B-B-E Jaguars girls' basketball team comes in ranked No. 19 in the Top 20 teams in Class 1A. They are the only team from Section 5A to make it on the list.

Sauk Centre is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, while Eden Valley-Watkins comes in at No. 6.

Catch the season preview story for the girls' basketball team in this week's Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Musical photo gallery

The Bonanza Valley Voice has a photo gallery uploaded to the SmugMug folders, and click on this link to view all 257 of them!

Check the print newspaper this week to see how many of them make it into print.


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Sunday, November 19, 2017

(Video) Volleyball team awards

Here's a long video from the varsity team's awards banquet held in Padua tonight:

Once I get my postseason awards stories written for football and volleyball written, I can finally put the Fall 2017 season to bed!

Here's the updated Bonanza Valley Voice SmugMug photo gallery from Fall 2017 sports: I've gotten it updated through October 31, and I'm about half done uploading my November 2 (sub-section final) photos from Little falls.

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(HD video) Fall musical

Finally, some coverage here on B-B-E's fall musical!!! This is Scene I of Act II, featuring Snoopy! And one of his sidekick yellow birds.

More to come later. Time to head to Padua for the volleyball team banquet.


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Friday, November 17, 2017

(Video) Youth gathering in Willmar

Below is a video clip from a Lutheran youth gathering in Willmar on Friday night, with ELCA Southwest Minnesota Bishop Jon Anderson speaking. Anderson was raised on a Belgrade-area dairy farm and graduated from Belgrade high school in the 1970s. (The exact year fails me at this time)

Here's music by Bridge 33, the feature music group at the gathering:

It's been an interesting (good) night in Willmar! Trinity Lutheran church of Brooten along with the Big Grove/Crow River/Grace Lutheran parish have sent 24 junior high kids to the synod youth gathering. The keynote speaker later in the evening gave an outstanding and amazing speech (with a one-person skit) about bullying. I have much, much more to write about it.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fall musical

B-B-E's fall musical opens tomorrow! (Friday)

Read more at the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's website, and also in the last two issues (Nov. 9 and Nov. 16) of the newspaper.

They've been working hard to get things up to shape. I took in some of their dress rehearsal tonight, and they looked and sounded fabulous!!


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

All-American volleyball team

The University of Minnesota-Morris’s volleyball team’s career kill leader earned her second All-American honor to cap off a sparkling four-year career playing for the Cougars. Marissa Ekness, senior outside hitter, was named  by the American Volleyball Coaches Association to the Division III Honorable Mention All-American list for the second year in a row. Ekness graduates with repeat honors as an All-Region (Central Region) player and now All-American. In her four years at UMM, she compiled 1,717 kills.

Ekness was joined by fellow senior Katie Reitsma (Sauk Centre/Padua) on the All-American honorable mention list by the AVCA. Reitsma, a libero who also earned All-Region honors this fall, was the first Cougars player to eclipse the 2,000-dig mark. The new program mark is 2,024 digs. She led the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference in digs this fall with 694.

And the best part? Both stand out college athletes are ##HumbleAndKind, qualities that seem to be harder and harder to find in today's world.

Gustavus Adolphus College’s Nora Holtan (junior setter) and the University of Northwestern’s (St. Paul) Lindsey Peterson (senior hitter) were named to the first team, with Peterson earning her second All-American First Team honor. Other Minnesota players named All-American were Whitney Lloyd (senior middle blocker) of the University of St. Thomas, Kate Holtan (freshmen hitter) of Gustavus Adolphus, Leesa Malone (senior setter) of UNW-St. Paul, Megan Pekarek (senior setter) of the College of St. Bendict and Kristin Stern (senior middle blocker) of Bethel University.

If you missed the November 9 article on Ekness's battle with Stage III melanoma in the Bonanza Valley Voice, please be sure to read it! If you don't get the newspaper, you are cheating yourself!! I consider that story a "top 5" story out of the 4,000-plus stories that I've written since joining the newspaper industry in 2003. Aside from a couple errors, I consider it one of my masterpieces. As I told her earlier today, I have read the story at least 20 times since the newspaper printed - and it brings me to tears at least every other time.

Thank the Lord! That she has mastered the art of conquering every day!


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Monday, November 13, 2017

And so it begins!!!

Head coach Kristina Anderson gives a few instructions to her Jaguars prior to the start of opening-day drills. This will be her sixth season heading the program. Joining her at the varsity ranks are assistant coaches Carl Williams and Kevin Kuefler. Coach Kuefler is a 2011 B-B-E graduate.

The preseason has started for two of B-B-E's winter varsity sports. A few weeks ago, the B-B-E/Paynesville dance team began their preseason drills and workouts in preparation for their December 7 season opener at Albany.

Today, a veteran B-B-E Jaguars girls' basketball team with very high expectations gathered at the high school gym for the first preseason practice. Their opener is at home on November 28 against Melrose Area.

The boys' basketball and wrestling teams hold their first practice of preseason next Monday.

This is exciting! The B-B-E Jaguars wrestling team is ranked No. 18 in Class 1A in the preseason Guillotine polls that were released last Friday. They are one of three Section 5A teams who made the polls. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville comes in at No. 12, while two-time defending section champion Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg is ranked No. 9.

The Jaguars have four wrestlers - two seniors - ranked in their respective weight classes: Canon Swanson, Tyler Bents, Adam Jaeger and Isaiah Gilbert.


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Saturday, November 11, 2017

More photo galleries

I'm getting caught up (slowly) on posting photos on the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's SmugMug gallery:

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day programs at B-B-E

A couple links with coverage by the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper on both our website and also on Twitter: (HD video included)

...and Twitter!

Today was conquered.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

(Video) Section finals, football semis

Shown is the majority of game one at the Section 5A final on Saturday night in Pierz. The final points are shown in a different video clip that I haven't posted yet.

I'll always wonder how the match would have turned out had the Jaguars pulled out a win in game one. That was one that got away from them!

Such is life!

Here's another video clip from the Section 4A semifinals between B-B-E and Upsala/Swanville Area:

It was one of the more memorable goal line stands I've seen for a B-B-E football team!

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Vote for my Cougars!

Click on the link and vote for my UM-Morris Cougars volleyball team in the conference's Play of the Week via social media:

Hint: it's option No. 3! Voting ends on Thursday.

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Sunday, November 05, 2017

This is just nuts!!!

This is just nuts!!!!

Check out this near one-minute long volley at the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference volleyball championship match held last night (Saturday) in St. Paul...on the court nearest the camera are the top-seeded University of Northwestern Eagles. UNW is ranked No. 12 in all of NCAA's Division III and also ranked No. 1 in the Central Region. Doing battle on the other side of the net are the No. 2-seeded University of Minnesota-Morris Cougars, the No. 8-ranked team in the Central Region.

Each return of the ball is an eye opener!

Then, by the 50-second mark, pay special attention to the tip attack by UMM senior sensation Marissa Ekness...she's their left outside hitter in this video (right-hand side of the video) =

'Tis the season for shout outs from the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper's sports department...and once again this one is for the UMM Cougars volleyball team (UMM is my alma mater) and Marissa Ekness. At 11:30 a.m. tomorrow (Monday), she and her Cougars teammates and coaches will find out if they get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. I would definitely rate them as a team on the bubble - and I hope and pray and ask you to join me too that their season will continue.

I have not warned her about this shout out - so hopefully she won't turn eight shades of red once she comes across this.

Fun fact: Marissa, who will soon be an elementary school teacher, participates in the Love Your Melon program. Love Your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America and supporting the fight against pediatric cancer.

Learn more here:

After sitting through Tenley Thompson's funeral yesterday (R.I.P. - May 7, 2010 - October 30, 2017) I was certainly overcome with grief and sadness. I kept thinking not only of Tenley's struggle with her terminal disease, but also to any child out there who is battling cancer. I'll never, ever, EVER understand. No child should ever endure such suffering.

Blahhh! This stuff just gets me. As a father of four, I cannot imagine experiencing any of this. No way.


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Catching up

I've had a small chance to catch my breath this afternoon. This fall has been a wild ride. It has been terribly exciting. We had a terrific, outstanding fall at B-B-E and in Jaguar Country. It's passed by at breakneck speed.

In football news...No. 2-seeded Mayer Lutheran shut out No. 4-seeded Upsala/Swanville Area in the Section 4A championship game played at SCSU on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders won 28-0 to advance to the Class 1A state tournament.

No. 3-seeded Moose Lake-Willow River defeated No. 1-seeded Royalton in the Section 7AA championship by a 29-15 score. For Royalton, it was just their second loss of the season. They finish 8-2 overall after having a first-round bye in the playoffs. ML-WR advances to state with a 6-5 overall record. They'll take on West Central Area/Ashby on Friday, November 10 at Brainerd. WCA/A won the Section 6AA crown in a 42-38 win on Friday night against No. 1-seeded Pillager at the FargoDome. In Week Five of the regular season, Pillager romped over WCA/A 42-12 in Barrett.

No. 2-seeded Minneota earned an upset win over No. 1-seeded BOLD in the Section 5A finals by a 35-22 score at the college in Marshall.

In Section 5AA on Friday night, No. 1-seeded Paynesville Area stomped all over No. 6-seeded Holdingford 32-7 at SCSU.

In Section 4AA, Maple Lake gave heavily-favored and top-ranked Minneapolis North a game but lost 44-30. The Irish finish 5-6 overall.

At SCSU on Friday, Pierz rolled over New London-Spicer 40-14 to win the Section 6AAA crown. Pierz has now made it to five state tournaments in a row.

**Here's video of the awards ceremony on Thursday night at Little Falls:

In volleyball news...the state tournament has been seeded. Section 5A champion Pine River-Backus, who was expected to go into the field unseeded, got a favorable draw. They will take on No. 3-seeded Bethlehem Academy in the Class 1A state quarterfinals on Thursday in St. Paul. They are not in the bracket with No. 1-seeded Mayer Lutheran.

Minneota, the Section 3A champion, earned the No. 2 seed at state and will play New Life Academy of Woodbury in the state quarterfinals.

Two-time defending Central Minnesota Conference champion Maple Lake, also a defending state champion, earned the No. 1 seed in Class 2A (as expected). The undefeated Irish faces Kenyon-Wanamingo in the Class 2A state quarterfinals on Thursday night. B-B-E's head girls' basketball coach, Kristina Anderson, is a Kenyon-Wanamingo graduate.


Saturday, November 04, 2017

Step IV: Jaguars ousted from playoffs

A very fired up B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team that was peaking at just the right time ran into a buzzsaw tonight at Pierz in the Section 5A final. Pine River-Backus rode the momentum of their five-set win against state-ranked Rush City on Thursday and defeated the Jaguars 3-1 to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2006.

B-B-E was gunning for their first state trip since 2010.

Game one was a crazy barn burner. It was a game that got away from the Jaguars. It was a tough, tough loss after the Jaguars built a 21-16 lead. The Jaguars were ahead 22-19, but three straight hits went out of bounds to tie the game. A fourth hit just barely went out of bounds to put the Tigers ahead 23-22. It was razor close. TOUGH play.

Had the Jaguars won that game, this whole night would have likely turned out much different.

Game two went to the Jaguars in exciting fashion by a 25-21 score. Brittany Berge's kill made it 24-21 and gave the Jaguars the extra push they needed to take the set after the Tigers scored three points in a row to narrow down a 23-18 B-B-E lead.

*Below, game two action. At one point, Pine River-Backus had a 14-12 lead before the Jaguars went on a 7-0 run.

Game three was a true neck-and-neck affair through a 14-14 tie. Multiple lead changes and mostly just one-point leads either way. The Tigers got some traction later in the set and got ahead 24-17 before they had two errors to narrow it to five points. The Jaguars hit long to hand the game to the Tigers by a 25-19 score and put themselves into a 2-1 hole in sets.

The Tigers played mostly downhill in game four after the Jaguars got out to a very good start with an early 3-1 lead. The game got tied up 8-8, and soon the Tigers held a 15-12 lead. Morgan Gronli nailed a tip to the right line for a side out, and the Tigers had an error to make it a one-point game. Two Tigers ace serves put pressure on the Jaguars, down 18-14. Ahead 18-15, the Tigers rattled off a 6-0 run that was the nail in the coffin. Final score: Pine River-Backus 25, B-B-E 16.

That was all she wrote. B-B-E finishes the season 18-14 overall with a sub-section title to their credit. They most certainly got B-B-E back on the playoff map in Section 5A, and I know they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

On a personal note: the eight seniors and the senior student manager will be deeply missed and not just by my sports department. I so badly wanted to watch them play on the big stage, the Xcel Energy Center, at the state tournament next week. They had all the firepower and the resolve needed to get there and do damage down there. It just wasn't happening. Volleyball, like any sport, can be a game of inches. Had a few more of their attacks gone down an inch or two this or that way - we'd be singing a different tune right now.

Then as the match heated up in Pierz, I'm checking my phone watching the live stats in the UMM- vs.-Northwestern college volleyball game in St. Paul, and seeing the Cougars lose game three 25-23 after it was tied 23-23...having my Cougars and my Jaguars lose at the same time has been very hard on me. For the UMM Cougars, they will await word on a possible at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after they just went toe-to-toe with the 12th-ranked team in all of Division III volleyball. I am no expert on Division III, so I have no idea what criteria needs to be met for that. I am biased, of course. If it was my call, the Cougars would be in! They have wins over ranked opponents, and for heaven's sakes they pushed the top-ranked team in the Central Region each time they met this season.

You put UMM and Northwestern together on a neutral site!!! And my money is on the Cougars!! *Update: after visiting with Marissa Ekness, I learned that the team is very much hoping and praying for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament. Taken from the college's athletics website: "Minnesota Morris has a 26-8 overall record. They now sit and wait to see if they will be named as an at-large team to the NCAA Tournament. You can find out by watching the NCAA Selection Show Monday at 11:30 a.m. on"

Signing off for now. Today was a day that I will mark down as "conquered" - but that will need some explaining, and I'm not up for it right now.

As I said last weekend: I still love my Jaguars, and that will never change.


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Game one from Pierz: PR-B 29, B-B-E 27.

In St. Paul, Northwestern squeezed out a 26-24 win in game one against UM-Morris.

Game two: Jaguars win.
Game three: Tigers win.

Update from St. Paul: UMM lost three very close games, and their amazing season is complete barring an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament. I am no expert on Division III volleyball, so I have no idea what criteria needs to be met for that. I am biased, of course! If it was my call, the Cougars would be in!

Update from Pierz: the Tigers are ahead 15-12 in game four.

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(HD video) More subsection finals action

Here's video from game three on Thursday night against Royalton:

I want to give a shout out to Marissa Ekness, Katie Reitsma and their University of Minnesota-Morris Cougars volleyball team as they play for an NCAA playoff berth tonight. Reitsma, UMM's libero, hails from a Padua-area dairy farm and is a 2014 graduate of Sauk Centre high school.

Readers of my Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper will know some of the story of Ekness, who is one of the top-ranked hitters in all of Division III volleyball! She is an incredible person on and off the court. Between February and August this year, she conquered a tough battle with melanoma (skin cancer). There is much more to her story, though, and some of it has appeared and will appear again in the Voice newspaper. They face top-ranked (Central Region) University of Northwestern at 7 p.m. on UNW's home court tonight. It is their conference playoff championship match. The loser gets a second-place trophy and waits only for a possible at-large bid, while the winner moves on with an automatic berth to the NCAA playoffs.

Ekness has followed our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team's success in the playoffs through our conversations and this blog. She's sent many well-wishes our way. I appreciate any support given towards our school and our student-athletes! It is an honor to have one of the best college volleyball players in the country pulling for our team. It's unfortunate our matches overlap tonight. Both have HUGE implications!

For readers here so inclined, if you can send up well wishes, positive vibes and prayers for Ekness and her Cougars team - that would be FABULOUS.

I hope many of you are headed north to Pierz!!! See you there! GO JAGUARS!!


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Scouting Pine River-Backus

Pine River-Backus is an all-underclassmen team who will square off with our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team for the Section 5A championship on Saturday night.

PR-B shocked No. 9-ranked Rush City in their sub-section final in a five-set thriller on Thursday night at Little Falls prior to the B-B-E vs. Royalton match. Game scores were 16-25, 25-22, 25-16, 22-25, 15-10.

Their top guns against Rush City were Alyssa Semmler (23 kills, 4 blocks) and Bailey Wynn (13 kills, 2 blocks). Both are juniors. Emma Barchus, a sophomore libero, tallied 13 digs and eight kills. Their setter, Rylie Hirschey, is a freshmen.

In the playoff opener on October 27, Bailey Wynn led PR-B with 19 kills and seven blocks in their 3-1 win over Verndale. Emma Barchus had 31 digs, while Rylie Hirschey had 45 set assists. Alyssa Semmler had 16 kills and six blocks. Gabby Rainwater had 8 kills and 16 digs. Five players had at least one ace serve each.

PR-B played in their second straight sub-section championship on Tuesday this week. Last year, the Tigers lost 3-0 to Braham in the North finals. Players on this year's team who showed up in the stats box in the match preceding that season-ending loss, the 2016 sub-section semifinals, were Rainwater, Wynn, Semmler, Barchus and Hirschey. Semmler's older sister, Annie, was a senior setter on last year's Tigers squad.

PR-B is enjoying a renaissance in their volleyball program. They lost the playoff opener for three straight years (2013, 2014, 2015) before getting into the sub-section finals in 2016. In 2012, they won a play-in round match before losing in the sub-section quarterfinals in a 16-7 season. That year the section was loaded, and Nevis ultimately won the Section 5A title with a 3-0 win over our Jaguars in the finals. The same script played out for PR-B in 2008, 2010 and 2011. In 2009, they went 0-1 in the playoffs with a sub-section quarterfinal loss.

In 2007, the Tigers went 23-2 in the regular season, only losing to a powerhouse Wadena-Deer Creek squad at home and then at Nevis in a 3-2 barn burner. The Tigers got revenge on Nevis in the sub-section semifinals with a 3-2 win. They proceeded to beat Onamia for the sub-section crown before losing 3-1 to our B-B-E Jaguars in the section finals at Bertha-Hewitt high school. Who else remembers that night? I sure do!!!

In 2006, PR-B was a Class 2A school (just like B-B-E was), and that year they lost to Virginia in the Section 7AA championship match.

In 2005, PR-B made it to state and competed in the Class 2A state tournament. They went 0-2 just as our Jaguars did during our first trip to the big dance.

My point to all this? The Tigers had a dry spell in their playoff success - spanning from 2008 to 2015. Clearly, they want to add more exclamation points to this year's success.


Friday, November 03, 2017

(Videos) More action from Little Falls!

In the midst of getting some valuable family time, I wanted to throw out a couple more video clips from last night. The first one features action from game three. I believe it starts with the Jaguars ahead 20-11.

**Below is the end of game four! That was FUN! It was AMAZING to watch Jenna Fischer's kill go down to the floor, then see the joy on their faces. I caught it on still photos, and of course, the video below. This makes the dozens upon dozens of long nights covering sports each year worth every minute of effort.

Okay, Jaguar Country! You know what to do! 

Up next: the Section 5A finals tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 4) at Pierz high school at 7 p.m. - bring your MAXIMUM Jaguar spirit! Get your hunting done by 4-ish and then get up to Pierz! It's approximately a 1 1/2 hour drive.

Additional information will be posted later tonight, mostly scouting information on Pine River-Backus. Needless to say, they are GOOD. Signing off for now.


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I do hope and pray we all remain safe in Jaguar Country tonight!

The roads are horrible and snow/ice-covered.

Eight cars in the ditch between Belgrade and Clara City!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Step III: Jaguars roll over Royalton

A very, VERY HAPPY, EXCITED, ECSTATIC team of Jaguars raising high their sub-section championship trophy! This NEVER GETS OLD!!!!!!!

Let me repeat myself: THIS NEVER GETS OLD! So much winning!

I have so much to say while hitchhiking home from Little Falls, and so little laptop battery to say it with! I have watched the Jaguars win subsection titles in 1997, 2002 and every year from 2005 to 2013. Each time it is special. I have missed out just two years: 2000 and 2004. The Jaguars have played in multiple sub-section title matches, with the first coming in 1994. Altogether, they have played in 16 sub-section title matches!!!

Tonight, for the first time since 2013, the B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team is Sub-Section 5A-South champions! They did it! The Jaguars rolled over the Royalton after dropping game one 25-19. The next three sets could easily be labeled "playing downhill" as the Jaguars got stronger and stronger as the match wore on. It was a thing of beauty!! Game scores were 20-25, 25-15, 25-12, 25-13.

Royalton finishes one of their best-ever volleyball seasons with a 22-8 record. They went 10-0 in the Prairie Conference.

B-B-E's volleyball team improves to 13-3 in sub-section title matches since the 1988 pairing.

Not much time for writing more here on Friday morning. I have a special volleyball printing to get on the presses ASAP. Stay tuned!

**Post-match comments from Coach Weller:

Up next, Step IV in the playoffs! The Jaguars (18-13) take on Pine River-Backus (23-6) in the Section 5A championship match. The contest will be played at Pierz high school at 7 p.m. THIS Saturday night! (November 4) This will be a very familiar setting for our girls, as Pierz is a fellow Central Minnesota Conference member. It will also be a rematch of the 2007 Section 5A final. The Jaguars won that meeting. Now they need to do it again!

Pine River-Backus shocked No. 9 state-ranked Rush City in the Sub-Section 5A-North championship tonight in a 3-2 match. I have video from the end of game five that will be posted. PR-B will come into Saturday's match with a ton of momentum. They are a senior-less team with a group of very talented ninth, 10th and 11th grade players who have no pressure on them. It will be a whale of a match!! Winner moves on, loser is done. I have quite a bit of scouting on PR-B to take care of in the morning.

**And finally, some video posted at 00:30 hours! Here's action from the opening stages of game two, when it was still a "back-and-forth" affair:

Here's the same message I've been preaching ALL fall! Spread the word!! Get a huge crowd to Pierz for Saturday's match!!!

And to all members of Jaguar Country - NEAR and FAR! - who cheered in person, or cheered while listening on the radio - or via the Internet - anyone rooting for our Jaguars: THANK YOU! Thank you for helping our girls conquer this day!!!!!! While 99 percent of it lies with our team and their coaches, I will go out on a limb and say that it takes a group effort of our entire community to help keep this rolling along.


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Game one final: Royalton 25, B-B-E 19...the Royals scored the last 5 points of the game.

Game 2: B-B-E 25, Royalton 15.

Game 3: B-B-E wins 25 to 12.

Game 4: B-B-E wins by a lot! I don't even remember the score!

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Game day! Let's do this!

It's game day in Jaguar Country! Well, technically, "match day" as we are talking volleyball! I hope your car pools are planned out! Let's do everything we can to get a huge contingent of Jaguar fans to Little Falls in a safe and efficient manner!!

I'll be with our B-B-E Pep Band. I know it's a late start, but this is playoffs. It's the nature of the beast! We need to rally behind our volleyball team! They have earned our support, now it's time to do our part. Pack up your Jaguar spirit. I'll bring mine.

*Update: the match will be aired on Smooth Magic 107 FM of Glenwood for those who can't make it.

*Below, catch action from the end of Tuesday night's semifinal win:

What: Sub-Section 5A-South finals
Where: Little Falls high school
When: 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 2
Who: our B-B-E Jaguars vs. the Royalton Royals


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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Winning in Morris

From left: UMM Cougars volleyball players Lindsey Markel, Kylee Hansen (4), Bekah Morris (16) and Marissa Ekness following the conclusion of their playoff match against U of W-Superior.

I spent my Wednesday night out west at the University of Minnesota-Morris, my old stomping grounds, while my daughters and I took in a very exciting college volleyball playoff match. My UMM Cougars defeated the University of Wisconsin-Superior in a 3-0 sweep. They're heading to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) volleyball championship for the fifth year in a row! Wowza!!! My newspaper's sports department got it all on tape to share with players' families.

*This clip begins with game three tied at 23-all...the Cougars were fighting for a conference playoff sweep, while the Yellowjackets were fighting to prevent one:

Game three was especially exciting, on the heels of two sets where UMM easily handled UW-Superior. The Cougars came back from a 17-8 deficit to tie it at 19-19! They ended up winning the set by a 27-25 score.

Time for bed! I have more to post in the morning. I hope some of you who are reading this can remember my publisher's column in the October 19 issue of the Bonanza Valley Voice. The column features a very special volleyball player at UMM, and it ties into the biggest job I have of being a father of four kids - particularly my daughters. If you read the column, it will give all the missing context to the reason why on earth we were in Morris in the first place - during what has been hands down the busiest stretch I've had in my (almost) three years of owning a newspaper. The player referenced is one of three seniors on the team. She ROCKED the court tonight with 14 kills, eight digs, four ace serves and one solo block. One of the other three seniors is one of Division III's best liberos who hails from a Padua-area dairy farm. (Fun fact: her big sister is a former Princess Kay of the Milky Way.) She made digging look easy! Some of the toughest attacks from the Yellowjackets were brought back in the air with ease for a perfect pass. It was marvelous to watch!

Tomorrow I'll be starting in "Part II" for that Oct. 19 column and highlight the wonderful time my daughters and I had in Morris tonight. My hopes are that it will be published in my Nov. 9 issue. I have much more to write in this series! If you are a parent, you will understand when I say that a parent will go to the ends of the earth in support of their children. (For me I didn't go that far...just 40 miles to Morris!)

You can read a condensed version of the newspaper column at my newspaper's website:

The UMM Cougars take a 26-7 record into the UMAC finals this Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul. The UNW Golden Eagles (31-6) are the top seed and the top-ranked team in Division III's Central Region. terms of our own B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team! Make sure you get your car pools planned for the Little Falls trip! Our Jaguars need our support! I'll be there with my camera equipment and also with the pep band!
What: Sub-Section 5A-South finals
Where: Little Falls high school
When: 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 2
Who: our B-B-E Jaguars vs. the Royalton Royals


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