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New Richmond volleyball team settles for second place in MBC

New Richmond senior Emily Kukacka was one of the biggest forces in the Middle Border Conference this season with her hitting and blocking ability.

The gift the New Richmond volleyball team was hoping they’d get from the Baldwin-Woodville girls never arrived.

The Tigers needed B-W to upset Osceola last Tuesday in the final round of Middle Border Conference play. If B-W pulled off the upset and the Tigers won at Durand, it would have given New Richmond a share of the conference title, along with B-W and Osceola. Instead, Osceola wins the conference championship, with the Tigers finishing second at 6-1 and Baldwin-Woodville in third at 5-2.

Tuesday’s win at Durand wasn’t the Tigers’ best performance. The Panthers are among the bottom teams in the MBC, but the Tigers had to work to win all three games, finishing with 25-19, 25-20, 25-20 wins. Tiger coach Missi Whittington used the term “clunky” to describe her team’s performance.

“When we’re on, we play like a greased wheel,” Whittington said. “A lot of things were off.”

Whittington said the team’s setters didn’t have a good night, causing the team’s  hitting attack to be off kilter. She said the team’s blocking, a staple of the team’s success, started off well.

“Then it pretty much went away. It wasn’t what we were used to seeing from the girls.”

The one aspect of the Tigers that maintained its standard of success was serving. The Tigers had two missed serves in the three games in Durand.

The Tigers had a week to practice before starting the WIAA Division 2 regional tournaments this Tuesday. Whittington said the team used the week to drill on all its fundamentals to be sharp for the playoffs.

The opening assignment in the playoffs on Tuesday was against St. Croix Central. The Tigers are the second seed in the regional playoff bracket and Central is the seventh seed. The winner of Tuesday’s match will be back in action this Thursday, facing the winner of Tuesday’s match between Baldwin-Woodville and Somerset.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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