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VB: Perham claims Section 8AA Championship over Roseau

Crookston-The Perham Yellowjackets remembered the feeling the last time they walked out of the Crookston High School Gymnasium.

That empty feeling fueled them during the 2015 season and the Yellowjackets made sure they didn’t have that feeling when they returned for the Section 8AA Championship on Nov. 7.

The Yellowjackets avenged a regular season defeat to the Roseau Rams in securing the Section 8AA Championship, 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22), earning their first trip to state since 1998.

“I am so proud of our girls. They have had this goal since eighth grade. As a coaching staff, we sensed a good vibe when the girls got to breakfast,” Perham Head Coach Eryn Moser said. “They had a determination, they were confident, understood their job and their role. They totally executed it.”

The Yellowjackets were led by the senior duo of Ella Von Ruden and Maria Rutten. Von Ruden finished with 22 kills, unofficially, while Rutten finished with 19 kills, unofficially.

“I have never been so impressed with those two girls,” Moser said. “They were our go to girls tonight. Maria really turned it up. Her leadership turned it up. She elevated that to an unbelievable level. Ella just came alive. She entered and walked on to that court with a confident manner. She was voicing her opinion, she was excited and showing it to the girls. Because of that, the girls just elevated their game.”

Olivia Strand added five kills as did Alex Lubitz. Janie Wunderlich finished with four kills in the win.

The Rams countered with the powerful attack of Amelia Johnson and Victoria Johnson. It was a duo the Yellowjackets were prepared for, knowing they would get their kills, according to Moser. Amelia Johnson ended with 26 kills, while Victoria Johnson ended with 14 kills.

“We had to control what we did on our side of the court,” Moser said. “They have one rotation where neither one of them are in. We just did a good job executing and scoring points. The girls never backed down.”

Since the season started, the Yellowjackets used that feeling from last year’s section championship defeat as fuel for this season.

“The girls reminisced about that feeling and we talked about it before the game,” Moser said. “They were adamant that was not a feeling they were not going to walk out with tonight. I definitely think that fueled them tonight.”

The Yellowjackets rallied from behind in game one, stunning the Rams, 27-25.

The Yellowjackets built up a lead early in game two, only to hold off a Ram surge. The Yellowjackets took the second game, 25-23.

The Rams gained some momentum on their side in game three. They built up a nice lead, before the Yellowjackets rallied late. However, the Rams held off winning game three, 25-21.

“I think our girls had a confidence that they haven’t had in previous games this season. That game three really didn’t faze them,” Moser said. “They didn’t have a fear. They were walking, conversing and moving on from that game. It didn’t seem to be a factor at all, and were focused on game four.”

The Yellowjackets rebounded in the fourth game, outlasting the Rams, 25-22, earning the Section 8AA Championship.

The championship win ends a 17 year state tournament drought for the Yellowjackets. Perham last went to the state tournament in 1998.

“We as a coaching staff are pretty excited. It has been 17 years, we have been close several times but haven’t been able to execute it,” Moser said. “I think it says a lot about our girls and I think it says a lot about what a great coaching staff that we have.”

The Yellowjackets first game will be at 5 or 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The tournament bracket and seeds are announced on Sunday, Nov. 8.


Perham def. Roseau (27-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22)

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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