NRHEG falls on Senior Night

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, October 22, 2015

Abby Christopherson of NRHEG digs the ball Thursday against Blooming Prairie on Senior Night at New Richland. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Abby Christopherson of NRHEG digs the ball Thursday against Blooming Prairie on Senior Night at New Richland. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

NEW RICHLAND — Although the NRHEG volleyball team secured the No. 2 seed in the eight-team Subsection 2AA South bracket, the Panthers were unable to split the regular-season series with Blooming Prairie.

In its regular-season finale, NRHEG was swept by the Awesome Blossoms 3-0 Thursday on Senior Night.

The Panthers lost by scores of 25-16, 25-23 and 25-10.

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NRHEG (12-12, 3-6 Gopher) fell against Blooming Prairie (8-15, 4-5 Gopher) for the eighth consecutive time dating back four seasons, including a 3-2 road loss earlier this year.

The last time the Panthers beat the Awesome Blossoms was Oct. 11, 2011, a year NRHEG posted a 23-7 overall record and was the Gopher Conference runner-up.

Panthers coach Onika Peterson said consistency will be the key moving forward into the section playoffs.

“We had moments of great play tonight,” she said. “We had some great hits, but they dug the ball extremely well and did a very nice job blocking against us.”

In Game 1, NRHEG cut a 17-7 deficit to six points but was unable to make up any more ground.

The Panthers mounted a more substantial comeback in Game 2. After trailing 21-16, NRHEG went on a 7-3 run to cut its deficit to one point: 24-23. However, Blooming Prairie scored the game-winning point.

In Game 3, the Awesome Blossoms built a 10-1 lead and didn’t look back.

Marnie Wagner, Maddie Wagner, Abby Wacholz and Sophia Fischer led the Panthers with three kills each.

Marnie Wagner also had a team-high eight digs, while Maddie Wagner had seven and Grace Johns added six.

Rachel Collins led NRHEG with nine assists.

The seven-team Gopher Conference features two teams in the Class A polls: No. 1 Bethlehem Academy (16-6, 6-0 Gopher) and No. 4 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (27-3, 6-1 Gopher). Although the Panthers were swept on Oct. 9 by Bethlehem Academy, Peterson said it was one of her team’s best matches of the year.

“We can scrap with the best of them,” she said. “It’s just having the scrappiness, hitting well, passing well and putting it all together in the same night.”

Other highlights during the season for NRHEG included starting the season 4-1 and winning four of six matches on Oct. 3 at a tournament at Blue Earth.

In the Subsection 2AA South quarterfinals, the Panthers will host No. 7-seed Waseca (4-11, 4-6 Big South) at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Bluejays began the season 0-6, went 4-2 over their next six games and lost their last three.

NRHEG has a No. 71 ranking from’s Quality Results formula, and Waseca is No. 110.

On the other side of the section — Subsection 2AA North — all eight teams have a QRF ranking of No. 59 or better, including three teams in the top 10.