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Sports from the week of November 7, 2001 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

Spikers have sights set high in St. Paul

The Panther volleyball team has a new goal this week—win the state championship.

The Panther volleyball team defeated Jackson County Central 3-1 Saturday night to claim the Section 3AA championship. The game scores were 12-15, 15-2, 15-12 and 15-4.

"Our new goal is to win the state championship," said Panther coach Katie Gervais, who was named Section 3AA "Coach of the Year." "We had to come back from that first game loss. We reminded the girls of the loss to Renville County West last year. We had to live with that for a whole year."

In the first game it really did look like TMB was playing like they did in last year's loss. They did not play up to their usual standards. The girls were trying to serve aggressively and their adrenaline-assisted efforts were either going long or into the net. The Panthers had five serving errors in the first game.

"We haven't served that poorly all season," said Gervais.

The girls were so pumped up that when Jenny Otto had a set for a kill attempt, which would result in the Panthers' second point of the game, she hit it so hard it virtually bowled over the opponent who tried to receive it. It knocked her back several feet!

Jackson County Central was also having serving difficulty and TMB was able to take an early 7-2 lead. The Huskies closed to a score of 10-9 before the Panthers got their 11th point on a Bitker block. Two more Husky points tied the score before a carry call put TMB ahead 12-11. However, JCC took the next four points to win the game and stun the Panthers.

Whatever the coaches said to the TMB players, it resulted in a remarkable turn-around. The Panthers gave up the first point to JCC but then reeled off 11 points before allowing another.

With the score 11-2 Otto served for two points, including an ace, and Kristen Rokke served for two more to take the second game.

The third game was pivotal and it was a "dog fight." Neither team could get a run of points and both teams were doing an excellent job of blocking. TMB worked to a 13-8 lead, but the Huskies wouldn't quit. They fought back to 14-12 before the Panthers got the winning point.

"JCC is a very good team and they block so well," said Gervais. "We went to a lot of off-speed hits and tips, plus the quick offense to try to counter their blocks. They were ganging up on Rhonda (Bitker) so that gave Maria (Ankrum) and Jenny (Otto) a few openings."

Panther opponents head to state football quarterfinals

Three of the teams that beat the Panther football team this season have made it to the state quarterfinals. Breckenridge won the section championship by defeating Ottertail Central and will play Lake of the Woods at Baudette next Friday.

BOLD won over Redwood Valley 24-12 in the section finals and will play Jackson County Central at Olivia next Friday and ACGC won over Holdingford 62-0. They will play Hawley at Grove City next Friday for the right to play in the dome.

Other area football teams still in the hunt include Windom, a 31-21 winner over United South Central and will play Waterville-Elysian-Morristown at Windom Friday. Red Rock Central won over Adrian 28-13 and they will play McLeod West at Lamberton on Friday.

Tough competition ahead at state volleyball tournament

The class AA state volleyball tournament this year will include teams from Concordia Academy, Greenway, Stewartville, Belle Plaine, Delano, Sauk Centre, Tracy/Milroy/Balaton and Lake of the Woods.

The Panthers will take on Lake of the Woods in a 7 p.m. game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul this Thursday. Lake of the Woods High School is located in Baudette, Minnesota and they come to the tournament with a 24-6 record. In the Section 8AA Tournament they defeated Warroad 3-0, Roseau 3-0 and Hawley 3-1. The team is coached by Laurie Bitter.

Katie Gervais named 'Coach of the Year'

Panther volleyball coach Katie Gervais was named Section 3AA "Volleyball Coach of the Year" following the championship match in Marshall Saturday night.

"It was a real surprise," commented Gervais.

Gervais has led her team to two straight 212 Conference championships and now to the Section 3AA Championship in her third year at the helm.