Joe Brown and Jake Schultz
GLENWOOD — Morris/Chokio-Alberta has found a comfy position atop Section 3AA-North. And even as the lower-seeded team in Thursday's sub-section championship, the Tigers could not be dethroned. Second-seeded Morris/CA started strong and never relented, sweeping top-seeded Paynesville, 25-17, 25-16, 25-13, at Minnewaska High School.
PAYNESVILLE — Running for 351 yards and five touchdowns, top-seeded Paynesville clinched a spot in the Section 5AA finals for the second straight year with a 46-0 shutout over fifth-seeded Eden Valley-Watkins on Saturday. Zach Schroeder ran for a team-high 128 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns on 17 carries. Max Weidner had 82 rushing yards and a four-yard score on 14 attempts, and Daltin Christinsen had both a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown in the Bulldogs' victory.
WILLMAR — The Willmar volleyball team battled with Alexandria through the first two sets but sent its Central Lakes Conference counterpart packing in the third to advance in the Section 8AAA playoffs on Friday at Willmar High School. Willmar won 25-20, 25-20 and 25-12. Willmar advanced to play Sauk Rapids at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Willmar. The Cardinals' Sydney Olson and Grace Marti both finished with 10 kills, Abby Teisinger had seven kills and Carly Wedel and Caitlin Ogdahl both had five.
GROVE CITY — An ACGC scoring onslaught in the second and third quarters turned a close game into a 63-16 rout of Sauk Centre in the opening round of the Section 5AA playoffs on Tuesday. Michael Trebil ran for two touchdowns and threw a 23-yard scoring pass to Josh Kinzler to put ACGC up 21-8 after the first quarter. Sauk Centre pulled close when Hunter Fletcher scored his second TD of the game to open the second quarter, but it was all Falcons after that.
WILLMAR — One Willmar cross country team maintained its place atop the Central Lakes Conference. Another one returned after a six-year hiatus. For the first time since 2012, the Cardinal girls and boys are both conference champions after Tuesday's CLC championship meet at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
CLARA CITY — Minneota proved their mettle. In the Camden Conference championship match on Monday, the South champion Vikings, ranked number one in Class A, made short work of the North champion Wolverines with a three-set victory, 25-10, 25-7, 25-14. Kate Hultgren scooped up a team-high 11 kills while Danni Burns and Piper Asche split hitting duties with eight kills apiece for MACCRAY. Sydney Thein picked up 18 set assists in the loss. The Wolverines close out the regular season Tuesday at home against Cedar Mountain. Minneota 3, MACCRAY 0
WILLMAR — In under five minutes, Willmar left Becker shell-shocked. Down 6-0 to the visiting Bulldogs at Hodapp Field on Friday night, the Cardinals got their first touchdown on a 10-yard Jake Evans pass from Drey Dirksen at the 8-minute, 26-second mark of the second quarter. That started a string of 35 straight points in the first half for Willmar, including four in a span of 4:48, en route to a 56-18 North Central White district victory.
SARTELL—Area tennis players reached the semifinals round of the Section 5A individual tournament on Thursday at the Sta-Fit Club. Litchfield's Elise Bierbaum didn't drop a game in winning two matches, and she now faces Annandale's Jennah Groth in the semifinals on Tuesday. New London-Spicer's Ava Hanson lost just two games in her two victories and she plays Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Swanville's Ally Ecker in the other 5A singles semifinal on Tuesday.
ALEXANDRIA — Missing one of its top hitters, Willmar looked at the family tree for a seamless replacement. As Sydney Olson nursed a sprained ankle she suffered during practice, younger sister Bailey came in and tallied eight kills and an ace block in the team's three-set Central Lakes Conference victory over Alexandria on Thursday. "Bailey came in and I don't feel like it changed anything," said Willmar head coach Traci Grussing. "They trust her; they are very confident in each other. ... Bailey came in and didn't get rattled."
WILLMAR — Brainerd had Willmar on its heels in the first set Tuesday. In the first set, the Warriors were on the attack for most of the set, leaving little opportunity for the Cardinals' offense to get clicking. Needing to change the momentum, Willmar started playing quicker and started playing better as a result. Even after being down 2-1, the Cardinals used quick starts to their advantage in the fourth and fifth sets for a five-set, come-from-behind Central Lakes Conference victory.