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— FAST FORWARD: A Look At What’s Ahead In Local Sports —

Wolverines head to northern home

After spending much of the early part of the season on the road, the Mt. Lake Area-Comfrey volleyball team will finally return home next week. After matches at Fulda Thursday and Madelia Monday, the Wolverines will play in front of the home fans Tuesday against Red Rock Central. It will mark the team’s inaugural home event in their northern home, as it will be the first of back-to-back home matches in Comfrey. The Wolverines come into the week with momentum after winning four straight matches to claim the title at the Sleepy Eye Tournament. In the tournament, MLAC showed solid balance at the net with four players having double-figure kills. Margo Stoesz led the Wolverines with 36 kills in the tournament. Lexi Toll, Kirsten Myers and Jaelin Renquist each had over 10 kills for the weekend. MLAC’s passing also sharpened during the day. After a first-round loss to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, the Wolverines saw solid back-row play, eventually setting up a rematch with LCWM for the tournament title. MLAC won the second meeting 2-1. Tuesday’s match pits the Wolverines against one of the preseason favorites in the Red Rock Conference. RRC returns a tall, talented team with nine returning letterwinners from a season ago. The Falcons are led by senior setters Haley Simonson and Kennedi Janssen. RRC’s top hitter early in the season has been sophomore Nicole Schroepfer. Other top hitters for the Falcons have been sophomore Kierra Highby, seniors Vanessa Kedl and Kaitlyn Rindfleisch and freshman Karli Arkell. The Falcons have been able to disrupt opposing offenses with its tall block. Arkell stands 6-1 while Kedl and Rindfleisch are both 5-11. A major factor in the Falcons’ success in the early going has been the back row play of sophomore libero Bianca Weis. After the RRC match, the Wolverines also will play their next home match at Comfrey, hosting Southwest Christian on Sept. 20.

MLA gets look at section course

Saturday proved to be a valuable scouting tool for the Mt. Lake Area cross country team. The Wolverines traveled to Luverne for the Bruce Gluf Invitational, squaring off against top-level teams from South Dakota, Iowa and Southwest Minnesota. But more importantly, the Wolverines got an early look at what will be the section meet course come October. MLA’s boys finished fourth at the meet with 89 points. The Wolverine girls placed seventh with 160 points. Luverne won both the boys and girls team competitions. “It was a good test for us on the section course,” MLA Coach Kyle Blomgren said. “We wanted the kids to get to know the section course and know their strengths and weaknesses at different points on the course. That should be a big help for us going forward.” Individually for the boys, Dalton Piotter turned in a solid runner-up finish in 17:01. Ryan Blomgren placed 11th (18:10), followed by Emilio Garcia de la Cruz in 18th (18:48), Josiah Gardiner in 22nd (18:59) and Seth Klassen in 47th (21:06). “Dalton did a nice job at the front of the pack,” Coach Blomgren said. “He ran with the leader, who took second at last year’s South Dakota state meet, for much of the race. Then, he held off a late push to stay in second. “We tried a couple of different things behind Dalton. Ryan ran with Emilio most of the race and had to work up to 11th. Emilio was in his first meet and kind of ran out of gas at the end. I was very happy with how Josiah ran and we had some nice performances on JV and junior high.” For the girls, Anika Fast led the Wolverines, placing 17th in 23:01. Elizabeth Strock had the best run of her young career, taking 30th (24:09), followed by Sara Quiring in 40th (25:39), Summer Janzen in 42nd (26:03) and Elizabeth Linscheid in 47th (29:20). “We’ve been pushing the girls to get down to seven-minute miles and we’re getting closer,” Blomgren said. “Anika started fast and did a nice job battling for position. Elizabeth Strock had a nice performance and Summer had a career personal best. We also had a lot of encouraging performances in the JV race.” The Wolverines travel to Worthington Thursday, then race at Windom Monday.

MLAC battles to title

After taking an early defeat, the Mt. Lake Area-Comfrey volleyball team caught fire Saturday, winning four straight matches to win the Sleepy Eye Tournament. MLAC opened the day with a 2-0 loss to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, but the Wolverines then picked up 2-0 sweeps over Madelia and Sleepy Eye to advance into bracket play. There, the Wolverines picked up a 2-1 victory over Fairmont to advance to the finals. In the finals, MLAC got another shot at LCWM, picking up a 2-1 victory. “The girls did a great job rebounding from the early loss,” Wolverine Coach Dan Hup said. “They fought hard and battled all day with very scrappy defense.” MLAC had good balance at the net, led by Margo Stoesz’s 36 kills. Kirsten Myers had 23 kills, Lexi Toll 21 and Jaelin Renquist 13. Rylie Tollefson led MLAC with nine solo blocks while Stoesz added four. From the service line, Myers went 35-of-36 with five aces for the day. Stoesz went 50-of-53 with four aces, Renquist was 43-of-45 with four aces and Taylor Naas was 18-of-19 with four aces. Destiny Sybounheuan finished with 32 set assists. Myers added 29 assists. The Wolverines will play Thursday at Fulda, then travel to Madelia for a non-conference match Monday. MLAC hosts Red Rock Central Tuesday in Comfrey.

Rebels edge Wolverines

Mt. Lake Area-Comfrey roared to life after dropping the first two sets Thursday night, but their comeback bid fell just short in a 3-2 loss to Murray County Central at Slayton. MCC won the first two sets in comfortable fashion, but the Wolverines fought back, winning the next two to force a decisive fifth set. In that set, MCC jumped to an early lead, then held off a late MLAC surge for a 15-11 win. Margo Stoesz led MLAC at the net with seven kills and had a team-high 17 digs. Lexi Toll and Kirsten Myers had five kills each. Toll went 18-of-19 serving with four aces. Destiny Sybounheuan was also 18-of-19, firing two aces. Sybounheuan and Myers had eight set assists each. MLAC....................................14 09 25 25 11 — 2 MCC......................................25 25 17 10 15 — 3 RRC Stat Leaders: Serving: Lexi Toll 18-19, 4A; Destiny Sybounheuan 18-19, 2A; Rylie Tollefson 11- 12, 3A; Margo Stoesz 18-20, 1A; Kirsten Myers 8-10, 1A. Kills: Stoesz 7; Toll 5; Myers 5; Jaelin Renquist 3. Solo Blocks: Tollefson 1. Set Assists: Sybounheuan 8; Myers 8. Digs: Stoesz 17; Sybounheuan 10; Myers 7. Clippers trip Wolverines Mt. Lake Area-Comfrey couldn’t sustain its early momentum last Tuesday, falling 3-1 at Cleveland. The Wolverines took the opening set 25-21, but Cleveland battled back to win the next three. MLAC had a strong night at the net, particularly with the block. Lexi Toll finished with six solo blocks to go with eight kills. Margo Stoesz had 10 kills and two blocks. Kirsten Myers added four solo blocks and five kills. Destiny Sybounheuan led the Wolverines at the service line, going 17-of-17 with an ace. Taylor Naas and Stoesz each had six digs. Myers had a team-high 15 set assists while Sybounheuan added 14.

Wolverines pitch shutout at HBC

Mt. Lake Area’s defense was the story Friday night as the Wolverines shut down a potent Hills-Beaver Creek attack, claiming a 27-0 shutout win at Hills. The Wolverines held the Patriots in their own end of the field much of the night. Meanwhile, MLA’s offense did all its damage in the first half. “Hills has a physical line and some nice skill position guys, so we needed to get off to a good start,” MLA Coach Tim Kirk said. “We got the ball first and came out with some different formations and punched it in for a touchdown. That took them out of their comfort zone a bit and we had them on their heels all night. “Defensively, we played a tremendous game. Our speed was a big factor, especially on defense. We didn’t really allow any big plays all night.” Quarterback Abraham Stoesz got the Wolverines on the board first with a 1-yard touchdown run. Stoesz added a 51-yard score late in the first quarter for a 12-0 Wolverine lead. In the second, Stoesz found another seam for a 33-yard touchdown run. David Larson’s extra-point kick gave MLA a 19-0 lead. Then, late in the first half, the Wolverines cashed in on a short field when Mace Herrig plowed in from a yard out. The two-point conversion gave MLA a 27-0 lead. MLA had several drives into HBC territory in the second half halted with penalties, but the Wolverine defense held firm, clogging the Patriots’ running lanes. “We shot ourselves in the foot a few too many times with penalties in the second half,” Kirk said. “A few of those were drive-killers. We have to polish some things up on offense because we can’t afford to have that many mistakes take away chances to score. “It was nice to see our defense do a nice job against a big, physical team. That’s going to serve us well going forward.” Stoesz finished with 165 yards rushing on 17 carries and went 14-of-21 passing for 113 yards. Herrig added 51 yards on 11 carries. Drake Harder had two catches for 40 yards. MLA (2-0) hosts Edgerton- Ellsworth Friday for homecoming. “Edgerton is always a big, physical team with some really solid athletes,” Kirk said. “We know what they’re going to bring on offense. For us, it’s going to come down to conditioning and execution. If we make mistakes, we fall right into their game plan.”