ALEXANDRIA — Willmar's first two postseason games had an eerie familiarity to last year's postseason run and the Section 8AAAA finals dealt the same sting of defeat as Rocori downed the Cardinals 14-6 in Alexandria. It didn't start well for the Cardinals as Willmar went three-and-out and Rocori followed that up with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Derek Thompson on their first play from scrimmage to take the 7-0 lead. "They made a play," Willmar head coach Jon Konold said. "We weren't concerned, we just got right back up."
New London-Spicer boys cross country team hasn't been to the state meet since before all of their runners were born but you wouldn't know it from talking to their head coach. Mark Thompson and the Wildcats took second at the Section 6A meet on Oct. 27 to earn the team's first trip back to state since 1995 but he said it's business as usual. "We tried to keep things low-key going into sections," Thompson said. "We knew we were going to qualify for state. There were no gimmicks, no 'I'll shave my head if we make state,' just run."
NEW LONDON — Morris/Chokio-Alberta had its closest match in weeks but continued to show its dominance as the Tigers eliminated Litchfield with a 3-0 win to capture the Section 3AA-North title on Thursday. Brooke Gillespie led the Tigers with 16 kills and 11 digs, showcasing a strong all-around game much like the rest of her teammates. Despite the fact the match was played at a neutral site, both fan bases traveled well. Morris/CA head coach Kristi Fehr said her team was prepared for the noise, though.
MARSHALL — MACCRAY withstood a Wabasso rally in the third set and set up a fight with perennial power Minneota with a four-set victory over the Rabbits in the Section 3A-North semifinals on Tuesday at Southwest Minnesota State. MACCRAY, the No. 2 seed, plays the top-seed Vikings at 8 p.m. Thursday at SWMS. MACCRAY won handily in the first two sets, taking 25-17 and 25-19 victories into the third set. But Wabasso opened the third with a 7-1 run and the Rabbits took the set 25-17. The Wolverines squelched the comeback with a 25-18 clincher in set four.
MARSHALL — Kalley Schwitters impressed with 27 kills but it wasn't quite enough against Minneota on Tuesday night in Marshall as Central Minnesota Christian lost 3-1 to the Vikings in the Section 3A-North subsection semifinal at Southwest Minnesota State University. Minneota entered the match as the No. 4-ranked team in Class A but the Bluejays managed to keep it close throughout the four-set match. The Vikings opened up with a 25-21 win and looked to be rolling to a similar second set win but the Bluejays went on a strong 8-0 run to end the set and knot the match at 1-1.
New London-Spicer is running head first into their toughest test in weeks with a Section 6AAA second round matchup against Albany (6-3). The Wildcats have been dominant over their last three games, outscoring their opponents 129-24 over that period. It's the longest win streak of the year for NLS, who entered the tournament as the No. 3-seed and defeated Melrose in the opening round on Tuesday 35-12.
NEW LONDON — Jackson Ness didn't let some nasty weather keep him from having a career-game on Tuesday. The New London-Spicer back ran for 329 yards as New London-Spicer downed Melrose 35-12 in the Wildcats' Section 6AAA opener at Pederson Field in New London. Ness got his team on the board with a 45-yard touchdown in the first quarter after the Wildcats fumbled on their first two possessions. Conditions were far from ideal and it showed in the turnover statistics. NLS lost two of three fumbles while Melrose fumbled eight times and managed to lose just two.
OLIVIA — Morris/Chokio-Alberta ended their regular season in the same way they've done for most of the season, shutting out West Central Conference foe BOLD on Tuesday night. The Warriors progressively fought back throughout the match but the Tigers proved why they sit atop the conference standings to win each set. Karly Fehr had a strong night for the Tigers, recording 35 set assists but the real strength for her team was at the net. Five Tigers recorded kills and they were led by Brooke Gillespie and Jenna Howden who had 16 and 15 respectively.
OLIVIA—The ACGC volleyball team jumped out to a 2-0 lead over BOLD but the Warriors battled back to win in five sets on Thursday night in Olivia. The first two sets were identical 25-21 Falcons wins. Rather than wilt, Warrior fans lit up to push their team in the third set. Falcons fans traveled well, as well, making for a raucous gym in Olivia. The pumped-up atmosphere worked for BOLD, who powered out a 25-12 third set win. They rode the momentum to a 25-13 win in the fourth before closing the match 15-8 in the fifth set.
NEW LONDON — Jackson Ness ran for two first quarter touchdowns and the defense did the rest as New London-Spicer downed St. Cloud Cathedral 32-6 in New London on Friday night. The Crusaders were forced to punt on their first possession and the Wildcats turned their first possession into a 73-yard pass from Brandon Adelman to Kelly Bennetts to put NLS on top 6-0. On the ensuing possession, the Wildcats forced and recovered a fumble deep in Crusader territory. A couple of plays later, NLS was on top 12-0 thanks to Ness' first touchdown of the game.