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Sports for the week of November 17, 2004

TMB poise puts freeze on Eskimos

The Panther volleyball team opened the 2004 state tournament by blanking Esko, 25-22, 25-17 and 25-12.
A kill from Laura Lanoue gave Tracy/Milroy/Balaton its first point and a 1-0 lead. The teams exchanged points until, with Tashia Lamb serving and the score 6-5 in favor of TMB, the Panthers put up 3 straight points, including a kill by Krysta Tholen and an ace block by Lanoue, to go up 9-5.
Esko put up 4 of the next 5 points to close to 10-9 before Lanoue's serve gave TMB six points and the lead at 16-10. Two points by Esko then preceded another run by TMB to bring the score to 19-12. Esko came right back to put up 4 points and close to 19-16 and eventually to 21-20. Emily Miller served for 3 points to get to game point at 24-20. Esko wasn't through yet and closed to 24-22 before Tessa Nelson got the 25th point on a kill.
With the first game under their belts the Panthers made easier work of the second and third games, winning by scores of 25-17 and 25-12.
"I thought we might be a little flat just because of the new surroundings," said Panther Coach Katie Gervais. "However we played well, they were a tough team."
"Tessa Nelson had 16 kills and the Panthers served very aggressively," said radio announcer Bob Gervais.
The Eskimos, making their first state tournament appearance, brought a 27-2 record to state.

Clutch play prevails
over Wabasha-Kellogg

The Panthers blanked Wabasha-Kellogg Friday to advance to the state championship game. Game scores were 25-21, 25-20 and 27-25. Wabasha-Kellogg, which came into the tourney with a 26-7 record, had beaten Pine River-Backus in their opening match.
"We struggled with our serving in this match," said Panther Coach Katie Gervais. "We came back in games 2 and 3 and blocked very well. We need to make our adjustments quicker."
The Panthers used four-point runs during the serving of Nicole Haecherl, Krysta Tholen and Tashia Lamb to outlast their opponents in the first game 25-21.
In the second game, TMB got a 5 point run under Emily Miller's serving, a six point run during Tholen's serve and a 4 point run while Tessa Nelson served to the 25-20 win.
In the third game W-K got off to a great start to forge to a 13-6 lead. With the Panthers behind 15-7 Emily Miller stepped up to the service line and put up 5 points to close to 15-12. During that run TMB got kills from Laura Lanoue and Tessa Nelson plus an ace block from Nelson. W-K answered with a six point run to assume a 21-12.
Then the mentally tough Panthers got a kill from Haecherl and a hitting error to give TMB 2 points before W-K put up their 22nd point to lead 22-17. Tashia Lamb came on to serve for 4 points to bring the score to 21-22. The Panther's Lanoue got the 21st point on a kill that forced W-K to take a timeout. The time out helped and W-K got 2 points to lead 24-21 before the Panthers scored 4 times, with 2 of them coming on a kill and block by Lanoue. With the score 25-24 in favor of TMB, the Falcons knotted the score at 25. At that point Nelson stepped up and got two kills to win the game and match.

Dilworth comes close, but
Panthers refuse to lose

The Panther volleyball program earned its seventh state championship banner since 1990 with a 3-0 win over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton at the Xcel Center in St Paul Saturday. Game scores were 25-14, 25-21 and 27-25. As the scores indicate, it wasn't easy as D-G-F got tougher as the match progressed and forced the Panthers to play their best to win.
"We wanted to serve deep in this match to move their offense back and keep them out of rhythm," said Coach Gervais. "We also asked Tessa Nelson to concentrate on defensive blocking and she still got 17 kills."
Tracy/Milroy/Balaton got the all-important first game win quite easily by a score of 25-14. That came primarily through a nine point serving run by Krysta Tholen to make it 10-3 and a seven point run while Nicole Haecherl served to bring about a 19-7 TMB lead.
In the second game, a five-point serving run by Laura Lanoue and a 4 point run by Tashia Lamb were offset by D-G-F serving runs until a kill by Tessa Nelson on a quick set and a kill by Haecherl closed out the game 25-21.
The third game was a dogfight with TMB holding a slim 19-18 lead and Tessa Nelson serving. The Panthers got a point on a net violation, another on a Rachel Gervais kill and the 22nd point on an ace serve. D-G-F got 3 points before a hitting error gave TMB a 25-24 lead. When the Rebels tied the score at 25-25 the Panthers got their 26th on a Lanoue kill and the game and match point on a Nelson ace block.
The Panthers followed their game plan very well and served very aggressively as shown by their 14 aces in the match.
TMB finished their season with a 29-4 season record.
The Rebels entered the tournament with a 25-3 record. They advanced to the championship match with wins over MACCRAY and Kasson-Mantorville.

Coach: Confidence, resilience
pay off at tournament time

Here's what Coach Katie Gervais has to say about the Panthers' Class AA volleyball championship and state tournament play:
Advance preparations—"We went into the tournament optimistic about our chances. We knew we had to work as hard as we did to get there. As a coach you do get concerned about being prepared for the teams you play because you don't have a chance to scout them as you would a subsection or section match. I owe a lot to our coaching staff for scouting as well as they did and then meeting for some late nights putting game plans together."
About Esko—"Every team we played had different strengths and weaknesses. Our girls did a great job of adjusting to those. We struggled with ball control versus Esko, mainly because they do a lot of tipping and off-speed shots. We did a nice job of playing the ball with tips, you don't get much time to transition to hit. By the third game our offense was flowing much better."
About Wabasha-Kellogg—"Wabasha-Kellogg had a very good blocking team despite their height. We struggled here and there with block coverage and letting balls drop. The girls really showed a great deal of determination in this match because in games two and three we were down 6-7 points in each. They found their way back into each game, which is a great morale builder going into the championship match."
About Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton—"The girls followed our game plan to a tee. We served aggressively, we did a nice job serve receiving, and we established our middle. We really focused on taking out their two big hitters (Lopez sisters) by establishing a block and serving to them to take them out of some of their offensive flow."
About the team—"I am extremely proud of our girls...towards the end of the year they played with more consistency and much more confidence and fight. They strung together seven great matches during tournament play. They have consistently got better during the year and really peaked at the right time. I have said all along that TMB may have a tradition of going to state, but the experience was new and definitely exciting for these girls."

Panther state tournament statistics:
Blocks-Tessa Nelson 12, Emily Miller 4 and Laura Lanoue 6.
Kills- Nelson 48, Haecherl 20, Miller 12, Gervais 11 and Lanoue 13.
Digs-Andrea VanMoer 38, Lanoue 47, Tholen 38 and Nelson 23.
Set assists-Krysta Tholen 94.
Serving-Miller 40/40 1 ace, Lanoue 40-40 2 aces and Tholen 40-40 and 3 aces.

Nelson, Tholen, Van Moer
named to all-tournament team

Three Panthers were elected to the Class AA Minnesota State Girls' Volleyball All-Tournament team.
Middle hitter Tessa Nelson, setter Krysta Tholen, and defensive specialist Andrea Van Moer were honored. All three are seniors at Tracy Area High School.
Other Class AA all-tournament team members are: Carley Heckman, Mayer Lutheran; Amy Glomski, Wabasha-Kellogg, Cayla Schroder, Katie Boyum, Kasson-Mantonrville; Kelly Lopez, Jennifer Lopez, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
A panel of coaches attending the tournament selected the team.

Tryouts set Sunday for
Junior Olympic volleyball

The Southwest Minnesota Junior Olympic volleyball program plans their 2005 informational meeting Thursday, Nov. 18, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
The meeting will be held in Charter Hall room 201 on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University. This meeting is open to athletes between the ages of 11-18, who plan on attending tryouts and their parents. The will introduce the new 2005 training format for each age group.
Tryouts will be held Sunday, Nov. 21, in the PE gym at Southwest Minnesota State University. Registration will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. outside the PE Gym. Tryouts for 12-15 year-olds will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Tryouts for 16 to 18 year-olds follows from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Cost of the tryout is $10.
For more information call Joe Sussenguth at 507-929-0853 or e-mail the club at

Coach: 'I'm very, very proud of them'

It's not often that the Tracy Area High School gym is brimming with people at 10:45 p.m. on a Saturday night. Then again, it's not every day that a Panther athletic team brings home a state championship trophy.
Just about everyone was smiling, despite the late hour, at a welcome home reception for the Class AA champion Tracy/Milroy/Balaton volleyball team Saturday. Three fire trucks, an ambulance, and a procession of cars escorted the team into town. With sirens and horns blaring, the procession motored by several homemade "state champ" banners lining Hwy. 14.
"It's pretty impressive," said Master of Ceremony Jim Miller of the Panther volleyball program's seventh state championship since 1990.
"I'm very, very proud of them," said Coach Katie Gervais.
The Panther mentor said that the team's Section 3AA victories over first Renville County West, and then defending state champion Jackson County Central, were watershed moments for the team. Getting past the two state-ranked teams, she said, gave TMB athletes great confidence going into the state tourney.
Gervais said that she felt that the Panthers had great potential at state. But, the coach added, she never dreamed that the Panthers would sweep all nine games in St. Paul.
The state tournament, Miller said, is an indication of how good the volleyball is in Southwest Minnesota.
The Panthers have won the state Class A or Class AA title (after the tourney expanded from two to three classes) in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001 and now 2004. Jackson County Central captured the Class AA championship in 1999 and 2003. Renville County West took the Class AA title in 2002. The Panthers' 212 Conference Rival Central Minnesota Christian won the Class A championship three consecutive years in 1998-2000.
The Panther seniors thanked the fans, parents, and cheerleaders for the welcome home celebration, and the support the team has felt throughout the year.
"You were the best fans by far, not just at state, but through the whole season," said Tessa Nelson.