Friday, November 08, 2019


In the Class 1A state quarterfinals, Coach Waddell gives instructions during a game three timeout on November 7 at Xcel Energy Center.

Good morning, Jaguar Country! It will be closer to 9 a.m. before Henning information gets posted.

First, here's the very, very tail end of the press conference with Coach Waddell, Brittany Berge and Grace Illies after yesterday's state quarterfinal match with Medford.

**Added Friday's part of the high school pep fest on Wednesday afternoon. It features part of the player introductions. What a fun week we're having! I can't say enough how blessed we are in Jaguar Country to have such a terrific volleyball team representing us at state!

Now for some scouting information!
The Henning Hornets volleyball team is competing in their first-ever state tournament. Their head coach, Kristy Finck, is a Henning graduate herself and has led the program since 2010. Henning sports a 24-8 record after yesterday's quarterfinal loss. They take on our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team today at 3 p.m. in the Class 1A state consolation semifinals. It is an elimination match.

Henning was runners-up in the Park Region Conference with a 6-1 mark. Back on September 19 in Wadena, Henning and Wadena-Deer Creek battled through a five-set match that was won by the Wolverines. It was a typical rivalry barn-burner, meat-grinder matches, with all five sets being decided by three or fewer points...and the final set by just two points, a 15-13 win for W-DC. Wowza! Game scores were 23-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13.

The tables turned in the Section 6A finals, which pitted W-DC (North sub-section champion) against the South sub-section champion Henning. At the brand new Perham high school gymnasium on Saturday night, Henning won a 3-1 match with game scores of 25-11, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20.

The Hornets were led by Abi Eckhoff's 14 kills against W-DC. Sydney Eckhoff recorded five solo blocks and three ace serves.

Henning's roster includes six seniors, three of whom are hitters, one a setter and two defensive specialists. They have four juniors on the team and just one sophomore. For the past few years, Coach Finck has been bringing her squad to the state tournament as spectators. This year, with a historic win over volleyball power Wadena-Deer Creek in the Section 6A finals, the Hornets are at the state tournament as participants.

To be sure, one can think back to B-B-E's first boys' basketball state tournament in 2011 and remember the sheer joy and excitement of the season culminating on the biggest stage for high school sports. Henning is also coming off a boys' basketball state title last spring. I can somewhat imagine and also feel a lot of joy for their community.

Still, this is athletics, and while we can be happy for an opponent, we still will gear up for battle and go out and cheer on our Jaguars to a victory today!

Back to this year's state tournament...
No. 2-seeded and No. 2-ranked Waterville-Elysian-Morristown swept the Hornets 25-11, 25-21, 25-18 in yesterday's quarterfinal round. Henning had just one lead through the whole match after they scored the first point of the very first set. The Buccaneers held a 12-9 lead in game one before dropping the hammer and close it out with a 13-2 run.

The tale of hitting percentages told the story for the opening set, with the Buccaneers hitting at a robust 44.4 percent clip and the Hornets at a 16.7 percent clip. In the opening set, W-E-M had just one hitting error.

Henning had a much better fight in the second set and had 11 hitting errors compared to nine by W-E-M.. One of W-E-M's sports reporters mentioned that the Buccaneers may have lost focus a bit after throttling the Hornets in the first set.

In the end, Coach Finck felt that W-E-M displayed "superior serving" while using a distinct height advantage to make it an easy 3-0 sweep.

The Detroit Lakes newspaper quoted her as saying, "“We are used to being in control on offense from start to finish and wow, man, they’re good,” Finck said. “They have weapons in all areas, they were in control of offense pretty much from start to finish.”

Henning stuck with W-E-M for most of the second set but could not get the deficit under three points after falling behind initially by a wide margin. The closest they got was 15-12 before ultimately losing by four points.

The Buccaneers opened up the third set with a 9-1 run and maintainted control the rest of the way.

Coach Finck stated in the Detroit Lakes newspaper that the main goal for today's consolation semifinal match with B-B-E is for her team to display better passing and run their offense at a higher level than they could against W-E-M.

Finck added in the Detroit Lakes newspaper, "My girls started to get touches on blocks, and when we started hitting at them, they got rattled a bit and had a couple little comebacks."

Junior middle Megan Rinicker was the lead Henning hitter with nine kills. Kylee Mesker had 15 digs.

The Wadena Pioneer Journal's article about the Section 6A finals included the following comments from Coach Finck.

“If we can pass we can do almost anything because we have weapons at every position."
“We had one plan; we needed to be offensively in control of the game."
“Our second plan was to block (W-DC's) Kennedy as much as we could,” said Finck. “We had to be in control of the game.”
"We have six seniors on our court and they’ve all played at least three or four years for me," Finck said. "I think they have the drive and the ownership and our underclassmen are phenomenal athletes too. They blend so well as a team; the unity of my group is amazing.”

That article also mentioned Henning's state basketball title earned last March.

Labels: ,