A marathon five-game match developed, full of the emotional highs and lows that typify such matches. On the other side of the net was the No. 3 seed: Cold Spring-Rocori.
The Tigers seemed to close to taking this match. We were in fact accustomed to winning by sweep. We took game 1 by a 25-21 score. But Rocori fought back to take the second game, 25-18. Momentum swung back to the orange and black side for the third game. The Tigers prevailed 25-14, seeming to establish the qualities that would bring a triumph. But volleyball can be an unpredictable game with the momentum shifts. We were one game away from taking the match but Rocori summoned new resolve. Game 4 went to Rocori in a 25-21 final.
It would all come down to one game. What suspense! Rocori surged at the start of game 5, assuming a 10-3 lead. But Morris Area Chokio Alberta wasn't down for the count, rather we surged to score the next four points. But the Rocori Spartans would never fall behind in this game. The score stood 13-11 before MACA's hopes were finally crushed by a premier Spartan player. Eleanor Holthaus was the standout at the end. She achieved two kills to put an exclamation point on the match for Rocori, and pave the way for further Rocori conquests in state.
Holthaus, an all-stater, was a clutch performer, getting six kills in game 5.
Rocori had to feel greatly relieved getting past the high-powered Tigers. Rocori's Thursday win was its 27th straight. Now their opponent will be Concordia Academy, the No. 2 seed with a 26-6 record.
Rocori? Concordia Academy? Sounds like private schools. Many people feel concerned about this: private schools which may have assets beyond what your typical public school has. When I was a kid there was separation: private and public. I guess the private schools got the political clout to get the division removed. It's debatable whether it's proper.
Today's (Friday) semi-final match for Rocori is at 7 p.m. There were twelve total state tournament matches played Thursday at the Xcel Center. Just one went the full five games: our match. Rocori now owns 30 wins for the season, against a mere one loss.
Karly Fehr had three serving aces for the Tigers Thursday. Lindsey Dierks and Brooke Gillespie each had two aces. Koral Tolifson and Cassidy Fehr each had one.
Setting specialist Karly Fehr had 42 set assists. Carly Maanum supplied three assists and Riley Decker two. Tolifson, Jenna Howden and Gillespie each had one. Ashley Solvie contributed an ace block. Decker was at the fore in digs with 22, followed by Dierks (19), Karly Fehr (17), Gillespie (13) and Tolifson (9).
On to hitting: Here it was Gillespie showing aggressive form at the net with 20 kills. Howden came at he Spartans with 13 kills. The list continues with Dierks (6), Solvie (5), Maanum (4), Karly Fehr (3) and Haley Erdahl (2).
Abby Lieser had two serving aces for Rocori. Morgan Holthaus had 22 set assists for the victor. Eleanor Holthaus had 15 kills. Three Spartans each had one ace block: Eleanor Holthaus, Ashlan Svihel and Ashley Stang. Abby Lieser had the team-best total in digs, of 20.
Here's a review of the game scores with the Rocori numbers given first: 21-25, 25-18, 14-25, 25-21 and 15-12.
The Tigers' serving was quite precise: just three misses. Hitting errors were a problem, though. I'm sure Rocori mounted a pretty intimidating block at the net. Anyway, we had 38 hitting errors, spread among five Tigers. Rocori had three more attacks than us (180-177). Rocori gained an edge by making eleven fewer errors. Rocori showed a more balanced hitting attack. Normally that's a strong suit for the Tigers.
Three Spartans each achieved 12 or more kills. MACA came at the Spartans with frozen rope-like ace serves: nine in all.
The Tigers aren't done. We'll play Hermantown at 7 p.m. tonight (Friday) in the consolation semi-finals. We own a 24-4 record. Good luck to the orange and black.
Back when I was with the Morris newspaper, I felt obligated to collect photo caption information all the time. I just assumed everyone would want to know the photo details. I also assumed that newspaper management would want the job done. Were I to show up at the office and say I hadn't gotten caption information, I would risk having people absolutely scream at me, calling me 100 kinds of stupid. The newspaper once had an editor who would be more courteous to Jacob Wetterling's abductor than to me. It's a line of work that can make people temperamental.
Maybe the news department people are just trying to justify their importance. Because truth is, it's the advertising department that prevails in terms of real importance, while the news department is just a trivial little matter off to the side. I'm not saying news isn't important, I'm just saying it's the ad department that pays the bills.
Times change. The Morris Sun Tribune newspaper, ever since I left, has tended to run collages of photos of major events with no caption information at all! How easier my life would have been, if I had been spared that responsibility. It's a 180-degree difference. I would use a pencil for the Parade of Lights, because the cold temperature would knock out a pen. One year I thought I had photographed all major or interesting floats, only to find out later that one of the award winners was one I didn't deem worthy.
There is a photo of the late Willie Martin in the Parade of Lights, on display at that sit-down area of Willie's Super Valu. I took that photo! Please pay special attention sometime. Willie radiated with the spirit of that event, and of Christmas itself.
How good was the 2015 Parade of Lights? We didn't take it in. Even on a relatively good night in November, the cold can be a barrier. I hope it was fine.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org