Archive for Kip Kovar

PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Bulldogs looking for better performance in Week 2 against MVL

LESTER PRAIRIE –  It’s safe to say that things didn’t go as planned for the Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity football team in their first game of the season. Against the St. Clair/Mankato Loyola Cyclones, the Bulldogs fell behind quickly and could never catch up, as they started their season with a road loss.

“When you have the expectations we did, the guys were all down,” LP/HT coach Joe Scoblic said about the Week 1 loss. “We, as a coaching staff, said the exact same thing. It’s one game. You learn that the other team wants to win as bad as you do. Quite honestly, they kicked our butts. We played much better in the second half, but in watching film, we learned that we missed a lot of blocks and got lazy in a lot of blocks. We just can’t do that.”

With the loss behind them, it’s time to move on for the Bulldogs. They don’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves, as tough and well-coached Minnesota Valley Lutheran team comes into town Friday night.

“Our intention was to always run the table,” Scoblic said. “We just need to do that. We need to man-up and have a short memory. We have to beat a really good team this week. MVL is well-coached. Their coach has been there, probably, longer than I’ve been here. They’re going to smash us right in the mouth and we better be ready for it.”

Last week, the Bulldogs allowed more than 350 yards rushing on the ground, and gave up four touchdowns that were longer than 40 yards. If they want to right the ship this week against the Chargers, they’ll have to tighten things up on the defensive side.

“Big plays killed us all night,” Scoblic said. “Their first two scores were on big plays. The defense did not play its best game, and needs to pick it up.”

The first step toward bouncing back for the Bulldogs starts in practice. They need to move on, forget about the loss last week, and have a good week of practice to get ready for MVL.

“We talked about that, and you have to have a great week,” Scoblic said. “You can’t let one team beat you twice. You just can’t do that. We can’t have many losses and then finish in the top four of our section. In our section, they are all pretty close teams.”

Like a lot of teams in the Mid Southeast West district, the Chargers want to run the ball. In last week’s loss to Mayer Lutheran, the Chargers fell behind early and were forced to throw more than they would like. If the Bulldogs get their offense going early and tighten up its defense, the game plan for LP/HT becomes a lot simpler.

“They passed a lot against Mayer, but then on the other hand, they were behind, too,” Scoblic said. “They run a lot of offensive sets. What we’re going to see the most of is double split one way and a single the other. They’re just trying to get other people out of the box and then they want to run traps. They run the option this year, and then a kick out with the fullbacks.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Lester Prairie Bulldog Field Friday night, as both the Chargers and Bulldogs look for their first win of the season.

PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Crusaders, Rebels both come into matchup boasting shutouts

When the United South Central Rebels and Mayer Lutheran Crusaders take the field Friday night, they’ll do so with a lot of confidence. Both the Rebels and the Crusaders are coming off wins in Week 1, and they both are coming off dominant defensive performances as each team posted a shutout.

The USC Rebels opened their season with a 35-0 victory over Bethlehem Academy. After a slow start offensively, the Rebels exploded for three scores in the second quarter against the Cardinals. With a big lead and their defense playing well, the Rebels cruised to a win in their season-opener.

On the other sideline, the Mayer Lutheran Crusaders are feeling good about themselves, as well. The Crusaders shutout the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers in Week 1, and had their offense rolling, as well. Senior Mitchell Thiesfeld had a big night offensively for the Crusaders, and they’ll be looking for him to repeat that performance.

For the Crusaders on defense, they’ll need to contain USC’s Zach Niebuhr. Coming off a big night in Week 1, where Niebuhr ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, he will definitely be a key guy for the Crusaders to lock in on.

Offensively, the Crusaders will look to continue their balance when moving the football. The Crusaders can hurt you through the air or on the ground, and will need to keep that balance to be successful against a tough USC defense.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Mayer Lutheran, as both teams look to keep their momentum rolling in Week 2.

The Crusaders are ranked No. 4 in the Class A poll, while the Rebels received votes this week.

MSHSL Class A Football Raknings

1. Minneota (46)

2. BOLD (31)

3. Wabasso (29)

4. Mayer Lutheran (25)

5. Mahnomen-Wauben (24)

6. Goodhue (21)

7. Ada-Borup (18)

8. Blooming Prairie (17)

9. Rushford-Peterson (14)

10. Ottertail Central (11)

Others Receiving Votes: United South Central 9, Dawson-Boyd 8, Adrian 8, Deer River 4, Fertile-Beltrami 3, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 2, Lakeview 2, Polk County West 2, Red Lake County 1.

Mayer Lutheran’s Baden Noennig commits to Upper Iowa

MAYER – It’s been a dream for Baden Noennig ever since he could remember. Now, it’s a reality.

Last week, the standout basketball player from Mayer Lutheran announced his commitment to the University of Upper Iowa, making his dream a reality.

“Being able to continue my basketball career at the college level has always been my dream,” Noennig said. “Now that I know that my dream will come true, I still cannot believe it. This means so much to me because I’ve worked my whole life for this, spending countless hours in the gym. I will never forget all the memories I made that led up to this point, including all the teammates and coaches that helped get me where I am today. I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with the opportunity to continue to play the sport I love.”

Mayer Lutheran’s Baden Noennig announced his college commitment to the University of Upper Iowa last week. Noennig has the ability to play inside and out on the court which made him a target for several college programs.

Mayer Lutheran’s Baden Noennig announced his college commitment to the University of Upper Iowa last week. Noennig has the ability to play inside and out on the court which made him a target for several college programs.

While it’s been a dream in the works to play college basketball, the choice of which college wasn’t easy. Although Noennig had other options, he believes he made the right choice to join the Peacocks.

“It was not an easy decision choosing Upper Iowa,” Noennig said. “I had to turn down some really great programs. Some of the schools that were at the top of my list besides Upper Iowa were the University of Mary, St. Cloud State, and Dordt. I believe I made the right decision for a couple different reasons. First, when I visited the college, I fell in love with the campus, and I could just tell that it felt like home to me. I also loved meeting the coaches, and really liked what they had to offer. Although it is a little farther away than some of the other schools that were interested in me, I knew that it was the right fit for me despite the distance. I can’t wait to spend my college years playing basketball in Iowa.”

While Noennig certainly has the talent and skill to play at the college level, it might be his love of the game that gives him so much upside. Whether it’s with his high school or AAU team, Noennig simply just loves playing the game of basketball and working with his teammates.

“What I love most about the game of basketball is the relationships that you build with your teammates,” Noennig said. “Those guys are my brothers, and I know they have my back no matter what. You can’t get this feeling of trust in any other sport. Especially with our coach, Pat Buchanan, who is really big on making sure we are a family. I will never forget all the memories I’ve made, and I look forward to all the new memories I will make with my college teammates.”

Pat Buchanan is just one of the coaches that has helped lead Noennig to reaching his goal. Whether it’s older coaches, AAU coaches, or his family that has been there since day one, Noennig can’t thank them enough.

“There have been a variety of teammates, coaches, and friends that have pushed me to become the person that I am today,” Noennig said. “The coaches that have helped me get there are Dan Kimble, Dan Perrel, Dave Hagen, Logan Becker, Eric Witthus, Kurt Stumpf, Chris Lewis, and Pat Buchanan. My siblings have also improved my game because they made me tougher by always competing against me. The support of my parents and grandparents has also made me never forget that they will always be my biggest fans. I would also like to thank all of my teammates from my AAU team, the Comets, and those players I’ve connected with over the years from Mayer Lutheran.”

Before Noennig heads off to the college game, he has one more season left at Mayer Lutheran. After helping lead the Crusaders to a third-place finish at the Class A state tournament last season, it’s still not enough for Noennig. He still has one goal he and his teammates are willing to put in the work for.

“For my senior year, our basketball team’s motto is ‘unfinished business’,” Noennig said. “This is our motto because last year, we made it all the way to state and finished in third place. Even though we made a great run last year, I’m not satisfied with how it ended. Our game last year against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen again. My goal is nothing short of a state championship. Our team is willing to work harder than anyone else, and we are hungry for a state title.”

CALM AND COLLECTED: Royals steamroll Delano in rematch of section title game

WATERTOWN – A season ago, the Watertown-Mayer volleyball team lost four of its first five matches. With a tough schedule to open this season, they knew how important getting off to a good start was.

The Royals took that to a whole new level as they dominated from start to finish in a 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-9) sweep over the visiting Delano Tigers Tuesday night.

“It was exciting,” senior outside hitter Kylie Hoese said about the win. “We knew what we needed to do and we went out there did it. We didn’t let up at any point.”

Senior Kylie Hoese and the Royals picked up an impressive 3-0 sweep over the Delano Tigers in their home opener Tuesday night,

Senior Kylie Hoese and the Royals picked up an impressive 3-0 sweep over the Delano Tigers in their home opener Tuesday night,

After the Tigers and Royals battled it out early in set, it was the Royals who pulled away after turning it on midway through the first set. A 10-1 run led by a pair of kills from sophomore Paige Thibault and ace from her sister Kate Thibault, helped the Royals pull away with an 18-8 lead. With the Royals one point away from taking set one, Kaitlyn Olson and Hoese combined for a block to give the Royals the upper hand and take set one.

“They played very consistent which was really good to see,” W-M coach Andrea Raser said. “It was just fun to see them get out on their home floor for the first time. They were super excited to play. They had nerves, but they kind of just played calm. They know each other. It’s nice to see that.”

After a big run helped them take a 1-0 lead, the Royals didn’t let up one bit. They opened set two with three-straight points, and once again used a big run to take a commanding 2-0 lead over the Tigers.

“We just got to keep focus,” Hoese said. “We got to stay on our side and don’t let anything interfere with our game and just play ours.”

The Royals did just that as they had five players with four or more kills in the win. Janessa Berrios led the way with 14 kills, while Paige Thibault added 10. Hoese finished with nine, and Vanessa Schroeder rounded out the attack with eight kills of her own.

“It’s great when everyone can step up,” Raser said. “No matter what the score is, they just play consistently play a higher level and not up and keep pushing on.”

Look for the rest of the story, as well as more HJ sports coverage, in the Friday, August 31 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.




Watertown-Mayer 3, Delano 0

(25-14, 25-14, 25-9) 

KILLS: Janessa Berrios 14, Kylie Hoese 9, Vanessa Schroeder 8, Paige Thibault 10, Kate Thibault 1, Kailey Olson 4. ASSISTS: Nikki McDonald 30, Paige Thibault 3, Kylie Hoese 2, Kailey Olson 2, Kate Thibault 3, Natalie Ernhart 6. DIGS: Nikki McDonald 7, Paige Thibault 12, Vanessa Schroeder 5, Kylie Hose 8, Janessa Berrios 9, Kate Thibault 10,  Lacy Baumann 1, Faith Unglaub 1. ACES: Nikki McDonald 2, Janessa Berrios 2, Kate Thibault 2.


SUPER SIX: Six area prep volleyball players to watch this year

It’s time to begin the 2018 prep volleyball season, and there’s no shortage of star players in the area. While each local team has players that can take over a game, the teams themselves as a whole could make for a fun fall.

Below is a look at six local players who are a must watch this season.

Olivia Tjernagel (Mayer Lutheran)

It’s been an impressive start to a high school career for Mayer Lutheran’s Olivia Tjernagel. She’s played two seasons, and already has two state titles on her resumé. If that’s not enough, Tjernagel has college coaches flocking already as she enters her junior season for Mayer Lutheran.

At 6 feet tall, Tjernagel already has a distinct advantage at the net over her opponents. Add in her impressive vertical and it’s almost unfair. During the off-season, Tjernagel reached a rare feat. She joined the 10 feet club.

Last season, Tjernagel was a big reason why the Crusaders were able to repeat as Class A state champions. She finished with 219 kills, as well as adding 105 blocks.

Tjernagel’s height and vertical is a reason to watch her play alone. Combine that with the fire and love she has for the game, and fans are in for a treat each time they get to see Tjernagel on the court. If that’s not enough, Tjernagel is only a junior and looks to have even more success coming her and her team’s way.

Janessa Berrios (Watertown-Mayer)

If Watertown-Mayer’s Janessa Berrios goes up for a kill, you might just want to get out of the way. Berrios is one of the hardest hitters in the area, and one of the top players in the area, as well.

What makes Berrios so special is her ability to mix things up. She can overpower you with her strength at the net, but also has the touch and wherewithal to mix in a tip to keep the opposing team honest.

Last season, Berrios had a monster year with 355 kills. If that’s not enough, she also had 47 aces, 226 digs, and 19 blocks.

Berrios and the Royals got a taste of the state tournament last season, and with a good chunk of players returning, have a shot to get back there once again.

Lanney Loebertmann (HLWW)

There’s not many things that HLWW’s Lanney Loebertmann can’t do on a volleyball court. Whether serving or setting up her teammates for a kill, Loebertmann has a knack for being in the right spot and making a play.

Loebertmann already has 1,000 career assists to her name, and in her senior season will only look to add to it. Last season, she finished with team-high 604 assists.

What makes Loebertmann so fun to watch on the volleyball court is her alertness. She knows exactly when to set up a teammate for a kill or to take it over on two herself. She finished with just 36 kills last season, but her ability to catch opposing teams off guard on two hits is unmatchable.

Loebertmann will still have plenty of weapons around her this season. She plays the game hard and will do all she can to help her team be successful.

Isabelle Roufs (HLWW)

With star Camden Schank gone this season due to graduation, Isabelle Roufs will be one of the go-to players this season for the Lakers. Roufs has the ability to take over a game at any moment. Not only can she dominate at the net, she also has a serve that is capable of leading her team on a big run.

Last season, Roufs grew into a bigger role that will likely continue this season. She finished with 261 kills last season, and could likely double that total this season with the volume she should see. She also recorded 21 aces as she finds a way to impact the game wherever she is on the floor.

Nikki McDonald (Watertown-Mayer)

There’s no doubt that Nikki McDonald is what makes the Watertown-Mayer volleyball team go. Whether it’s her sets, or seemingly impossible digs, McDonald is one of the top players in the area. The energy and passion she plays the game with is hard to find. Combine that with her skill set, and it’s no surprise the Royals are ranked in the top 10 in Class AA to open the season.

McDonald already has 1,000 career assists and was an All-Conference selection last season. She finished with 780 assists just last year alone, while also adding 148 digs and 23 aces.

McDonald’s leadership and passion make her one of the top players in the area, and also one of the most enjoyable to watch. With her final season coming up, look for McDonald to leave it all on the floor once again for the Royals this season.

Alexa Schumann (HLWW)

A player that might be under the radar, but could help take her team to the next level is HLWW’s Alexa Schumann. Ever since getting called up to the varsity her freshman season, Schumann has been a nice fit for the Lakers.

Her ability to play in both the front and back row gives the Lakers some flexibility. She’s also one of the top servers as well on the team.

Last season, Schumann tallied 38 aces, 87 kills, and 194 digs for the Lakers. With more time and sets ran for her this season, she’s another player that could see her stats double this year.

It’s rare to see Schumann out on the court without a smile. Even if she makes a mistake, she’s quick to laugh it off and get ready for the next point. A big season could be in store for her and the Lakers this year.

It’s reload, not rebuild for Mayer Lutheran volleyball in 2018

MAYER – The Mayer Lutheran volleyball team is coming off back-to-back state titles the past two years. Although the Crusaders graduated nine seniors from last year’s team that took this program to uncharted territory, expectations remain the same.

“A lot of people have said ‘you’re rebuilding this year’,” Mayer Lutheran coach Joelle Grimsley said. “I (told them) no. Rebuilding means you’re broken. This team is definitely not broken. The term we use is we’re reloading. We’re having a fresh start. That’s what we’re going with because we’re not broken. We’re reloading.”

The Crusaders return just four players from last year’s roster, and just two players who actually have varsity experience. Even with that, Grimsley is excited to see those four players step into new, and of course, bigger roles for the Crusaders this season.

Olivia Tjernagel is poised for a huge season for Mayer Lutheran this year. Tjernagel is one of the most talented players in the area, and will be a focal point of the offense for the Crusaders this season.

Olivia Tjernagel is poised for a huge season for Mayer Lutheran this year. Tjernagel is one of the most talented players in the area, and will be a focal point of the offense for the Crusaders this season.

“It’s interesting because we basically have four returning players, and just two with any experience,” Grimsley said. “It’s going to be neat to see them step in. You already see it at practice. Those four are leading very well. They know they have to. They’ve never had to lead. We’re talking a lot about leadership roles, and I’m giving them opportunities. It’ll be exciting to see them step in.”

Leading the way for the Crusaders this season will be junior Olivia Tjernagel. In her first two high school seasons, Tjernagel already has two state titles attached her resume. This year, Tjernagel will be a focal point for the Crusaders, and it’s something she thinks she’s ready for.

“It’ll be a lot of work,” Tjernagel said. “We’re all super excited to just get back out and start playing together again. We’re just working hard.”

Tjernagel has been on the radar for college coaches ever since she stepped on the court with the Crusaders. At 6-1 while also being able to play all over the court, Tjernagel presents a matchup nightmare for opposing teams at the net, as well as everywhere else. She’ll also be taking on a leadership role this season, which is something she hasn’t had to deal with thus far in her high school career.

“We just need to really encourage people on,” Tjernagel said. “A lot of them are younger girls, so we just need to be a leader and have them follow us. We need to take our time and not get frustrated when things aren’t going on our way. Last year, we were just so used to having everything flow so much better, but this year, things will be a lot different.”

Junior Claudia Stahlke will also not only be a key player going forward for Mayer Lutheran this season, but will also be relied on to be a leader as she is one of the three captains for this season.

“We’re each leaders, in our way,” Stahlke said. “I think that will help the team a lot this season. I’m just ready for a fresh start.”

Claudia Stahlke will fill a bigger role for the Crusaders at the net. At 6-foot-2, Stahlke is one of three players the Crusaders have over six feet on the this year’s team.

Claudia Stahlke will fill a bigger role for the Crusaders at the net. At 6-foot-2, Stahlke is one of three players the Crusaders have over six feet on the this year’s team.

Patience is the key word for the Crusaders this season. With just four returning players, Grimsley knows how important it is to fill those empty spots with younger players.

“Our main thing is just to be patient right now,” Grimsley said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get chemistry with them, and to help them learn. They’ve never played varsity. A key word is patience. We’ll wait till October and see where we are.”

Grimsley has already brought up two freshmen for the upcoming season, and thinks both players can contribute from the get-go.

“I brought up two freshmen (Emma Lade and Lilly Wachholz) to help out,” Grimsley said. “I would only bring a freshman up if they’re going to do that. They’re going to contribute.”

While Grimsley has had the luxury of relying on an impressive core group the last two seasons, she’s excited about the new challenges this season will bring.

“With that group last year, you would come into some practices and they just did it,” Grimsley said. “We’d go into games and matches and not have to do a ton of coaching because they just ran it themselves. I had a lot of them for four years. It is exciting because people still have a (target) on our back and they’re coming after you. Being patient is extremely important. I’ve told my parents that. I’ve told everybody that. I’m not saying it’s ugly right now. It’s just fresh. It really is a fresh start.”

Just because the Crusaders only bring back two players with varsity experience, that doesn’t mean expectations will be on the low side. Each year, Grimsley and the Crusaders have a goal, and that won’t change this year despite some new faces.

“In October, we will see where we are,” Grimsley said. “I have had the philosophy every year of coaching that our goal is to get to the state tournament. Once you get there, you see what you can do. That’s definitely not changing.”

“By the end of the season, I think we’ll be OK,” senior Symone Jopp said. “That’s the most important thing. If we can stick it out these first few weeks, we can just get better. It helps that we are leaders. Then, they follow us and it just makes everything easier and everything works better.”

The high expectations once again for the Crusaders isn’t lost on the players either. They know there is plenty of talent and depth this season to keep the impressive tradition rolling this season.

“So many people are saying that we are rebuilding this year, but coach decided to change that to reloading,” Tjernagel said. “If you’re rebuilding, you’re broken. We decided we’re not broken, and we’re just reloading for another year.”


Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter to stay up to date on the Mayer Lutheran volleyball team this season.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports