Sunday, November 10, 2019

State football, state volleyball updates

**Here's footage from the return of our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team from the state tournament.

Also!!! Don't forget that the Brooten American Legion pancake breakfast runs until 1 p.m. today!! Their advertisement has been on page two in the last two Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper issues.

**Here's action from the second set of the Henning vs. B-B-E consolation semifinal battle on Friday afternoon. It begins with the Hornets holding a 10-9 lead.

Congratulations to Section 4A champion Browerville, who beat Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop 33-6 in the Class 1A state football quarterfinals. The game was played yesterday at St. Cloud State University. Browerville (10-1) was B-B-E's Homecoming opponent this fall. They shared the Sub-District III title with Upsala/Swanville Area in the Midstate District this fall.

At the state volleyball tournament, Medford swept unseeded Fosston 25-16, 25-16, 25-17 to take third place on Saturday. Medford graduates five seniors off of their roster of 12 student-athletes: Kiley Nihart, Morgan Langeslag, Emma Kniefel, Alyvia Johnson and Izzy Reuvers.

I just read that Stewartville's state title in Class 2A yesterday was their fifth overall in school history. It's their first state title since 2014. They've now played in 24 state tournaments after going 30-4 this year. I'll never forget the 2005 state tournament, when our state rookie B-B-E Jaguars squared off with Stewartville in the quarterfinals. The Jaguars had a 2-1 lead in sets before losing the last two sets in a 3-2 heartbreaker.

Just like Stewartville's match against B-B-E did in 2005, their state finals match yesterday with North Branch lasted two hours.

Minneota became cream of the crop in Class 1A volleyball when they swept an incredibly talented and well-rounded Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Buccaneers team in the state finals yesterday. Game scores were 25-19, 25-19, 25-20. W-E-M finishes 34-3 overall, and the Vikings finish 33-3.

Just how good is Minneota? So good that they swept a stacked, experienced powerhouse W-E-M team that had knocked off the previously No. 1-ranked team in the state, Mayer Lutheran, in the Section 2A finals. Minneota tallied an incredible 90 digs in the state finals compared to 59 for W-E-M.

Mayer Lutheran had ended the Buccaneers' season in the previous three section finals (ouch!). This year W-E-M punched its ticket through even though they had lost to Mayer Lutheran earlier in the season (2-1 in the championship of the Burnsville tournament with game scores in that match were 19-25, 25-18, 15-11). Game scores in what was one of those incredible five-set thrillers were 20-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-19, 15-13. W-E-M came back from trailing two sets to one to advance to state.

W-E-M last played at the state tournament in 2015, when they took first place with a wild 3-2 win over Bethlehem Academy. Game five had a 15-13 score. Wow. B.A. lost by wide margins in the first two games, 25-17 and 25-18, before they ground out two 25-23 wins to deadlock it at two sets apiece.

The 2015 playoffs marked the first of a still-running five-year stretch where W-E-M and Mayer Lutheran have squared off in the section finals for a trip to the state tournament. In 2017, W-E-M blazed into the section finals despite having no seniors on their roster. It's noteworthy that the 2017 team was made up of many younger sisters to players who were on the 2015 state champion team.

This year, W-E-M graduates just two seniors off of its roster: outside hitter Trista Hering and middle hitter Delaney Donahue.

Fun fact: one of W-E-M's big hitters is junior outside and full-rotation player Toryn Richards, 5'11" daughter of former B-B-E science teacher and head football coach Mike Richards. She broke the mold at W-E-M when she became a member of the W-E-M Junior Olympics volleyball 15s as a sixth grader. Generally speaking, a 15s JO team has mostly eighth and ninth graders.

Toryn is also a guard on the W-E-M basketball team and is on the Southern MN Fury AAU club team. In the spring, she's a star track and field team member for the Buccaneers. Last June she competed at the Class 1A state meet after advancing in the high jump (best jump of 5'2") as well as the pole vault and 4x100 relay. She earned a personal record at the state pole vault with a best effort of 11 feet, an All-State effort good for a fourth-place tie. She was also All-State in the high jump with a three-way tie for third place. Her 4x100 relay squad experienced adversity that can come at a high-pressure situation in sports, with her hand off exchange resulting in a disqualification at state.

Earlier this season, Toryn Richards surpassed 1,000 career kills. Also, in the 41st annual W-E-M home tournament in September, she earned her 1,000th career dig.

In the Section 2A finals, Mayer Lutheran held a 13-10 lead in the fifth set. Richards went to the service line after teammate Trista Hering's ace block earned a side out. Richards proceeded to serve out the match, with her Buccaneers going on a 5-0 run to end the match and advance to state. She finished with 17 kills on 36 percent hitting along with 14 digs. W-E-M's Hering earned four ace blocks in that final set, including two stuffs during the final 5-0 run. Hering, a senior, finished the night with five solo and seven assisted blocks.

Mike Richards is a staff member and the current head football coach at W-E-M. His Buccaneers, who took third in their regular season sub-district and have been a Class 2A team in recent years, lost in the Section 2A semifinals in a 46-44 shoot out to Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop. G-F-W went on to pound previously undefeated United South Central 48-26 in the section finals before their drubbing by Browerville last night.

Last year, in Richards' first season as head coach at W-E-M, the Buccaneers went 9-2 with a season-ending loss in the Section 2AA finals. Just as he was at B-B-E, he is also an assistant varsity wrestling coach at W-E-M as well as the head track and field coach.

The Richards family moved from Belgrade to W-E-M in the summer of 2010. His wife, Carrie, is also a teacher at W-E-M as a member of the special education staff. They also have two sons (little brothers to Toryn): Tatum and Trey.

Another side note, something I found interesting, is that W-E-M's head volleyball coach (Crystal Lamont) is also their head fastpitch softball coach. That is not unheard of in small schools.

In the Class 3A state quarterfinals, Pierz drubbed Perham 58-16 in a game played at Alexandria yesterday.

More to come.

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