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Wolverines denied fifth straight trip to Class AA state tournament

Wadena-Deer Creek's Emily Miron dives to the floor in an attempt to dig out a Thief River Falls volley in the Nov. 3 Section 8AA playoff action at Bagley. Looking on are Thief River Falls' Shelby Norlin (2) and Brooke Yaggie (3) and WDC's Melissa Moenkedick (8), Donyel Post (7) and Heather Theisen (9). Photo by Brian Hansel

Wadena-Deer Creek's plans of a fifth straight trip to the Class AA state volleyball tournament ended in the Section 8AA finals at Bagley.

While deer hunters crowded the forests and fields of the state on Nov. 3 firearms opener, the Wolverines were drawing a bead on a different target, a return engagement at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.

The Wolverines came out on top in their first two games with Thief River Falls, 30-28 and 29-27, but found themselves on the losing end of the final three games, 25-14, 25-17 and 15-11.

"We had a referee in that game that determined the outcome," a disappointed Wadena-Deer Creek Head Coach Sue Volkmann said.

Volkmann was referring to head referee Paul Weber. During one timeout late in the second game, Weber was called down from his perch above the court to discuss a scorebook issue, which was created when Thief River Falls' libero served out of rotation. Volkmann alleged Weber ended the discussion by erasing numbers in the official scorebook.

"The Bagley scorekeeper was just beside herself for what he did. He was unethical," Volkmann said.

The Wolverines ended up winning Game 2, but over the final three games Volkmann alleged Weber was guilty of officiating bias on several occasions against Wadena-Deer Creek.

"He certainly made it very difficult for us," Volkmann said.

Weber said he recalled four game calls that did not go WDC's way, but denied any bias against the Wolverines. He said he did feel compelled after that match to send a report to the Minnesota State High School League.

"There was no bias," Weber said. "I've done many section final games, but this was the first time that I had to do an incident report to the State High School League afterwards because Sue went up and took the official scorebook and was walking away with it. I had to go and get the scorebook back from her."

Emily Miron led the state-ranked Wolverines with 31 kills and 15 blocks. Hope Theisen paced WDC with 35 digs. Heather Theisen led the Wolverines with 58 set assists. Caitlin Volkmann backed up Miron in kills with 22 and came up with 26 digs. Melissa Moenkedick had 13 blocks. Halley Maas was 20 of 21 at the serving line with one ace.

Laurie Bitter's Prowlers qualified for their first state tournament trip.

"We knew they were really athletic," Volkmann said. "I was surprised by how well they blocked. They didn't give up and they played hard."

The two clubs squared off earlier this year at the Class AA Showcase in Burnsville. The Prowlers won both sets in the pool play match at Burnsville. The Wolverines defeated the Prowlers for the Section 8AA title last year.

Volkmann said she is not certain her team would have defeated the Prowlers but felt it was a shame they did not receive an even break from the officials.

"They should have let the players decide the game," said Volkmann.

The Wolverines ended the season with a 22-9 record. The Prowlers went into state with a 26-5 record.

"My seniors played their heart out, and it shouldn't have gone like that," Volkmann said.

Thief River Falls 30-27-25-25-15,

Wadena-Deer Creek 32-29-14-17-11

Kills-Emily Miron-31, Caitlin Volkmann-22, Halley Maas-8, Melissa Moenkedick-1, Danyel Post-1

Digs-Caitlin Volkmann-26, Emily Miron-15, Halley Maas-10, Melissa Moenkedick-2, Hope Theisen-35, Sydney Schissel-11, Heather Theisen-8, Casey Volkmann-6, Danyel Post-6

Serving - Caitlin Volkmann- 18 for 18 with an ace, Hope Theisen 15 for 16 with an ace, Sydney Schissel-15 for 15 with an ace, Heather Theisen - 16 for 16, Halley Maas - 20 for 21 with an ace, Casey Volkmann- 13 for 14

Blocking - Heather Theisen-6, Caitlin Volkmann-7, Halley Maas-2, Emily Miron-15, Melissa Moenkedick-13, Danyel Post - 1

Setting Assists-Heather Theisen-58