Cowgirls, Wildcats meet for NCC title
CLARION — It may be a regular season finale in Clarion, but there will definitely be a postseason atmosphere inside the Clarion-Goldfield/Dows gym on Thursday night when two unbeaten Top-15 teams meet with the North Central Conference title on the line.
The second-ranked (Class 3A) Cowgirls (22-2 overall, 5-0 North Central Conference) will look to defend their league title against the Wildcats (29-2, 6-0).
Action begins at 7:30 p.m. in Clarion.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere with the conference title on the line and playing Humboldt,” said Clarion-Goldfield/Dows head coach Katrina TerHark. “It’s always a fun atmosphere when we play and a it will be a hard fought match.
“With both teams rated, it’s going to be a dog fight and an exciting time. With regionals coming out, we both are going different directions.”
Both teams have a pair of losses. The Cowgirls and Wildcats both lost to No. 1 Osage. C-G/D’s other loss came at the hands of third-ranked Dike-New Hartford (Class 2A). Humboldt’s last loss was to sixth-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock (Class 4A).
Last season the Cowgirls, who were a Class 3A state semifinalist, finished the season 30-7 and were unbeaten in seven NCC contests. They defeated the Wildcats 3-1 to claim the league title.
“This is setting both teams up for success,” TerHark said. “With a win you take it and roll into regionals.”
Prior to last season Humboldt had a streak of 12 straight match victories dating back to the 2007 season, where they beat the Cowgirls 36-7 in sets.
Humboldt has been atop the league standings four of the last six seasons, claiming gold in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
Wildcat head coach Justin McDaniel, who took over the program in 2014, is ready for the playoff type atmosphere.
“Our team is excited play,” McDaniel said. “We’ve been working on some outside defense and some of the things they do.”
Both teams will trot out a large senior class who have meant a great deal to their programs.
Humboldt’s eight-pack of seniors of Jori Hajek, Kendal Clark, Lily Groat, Kailee Dettmann, Emily Zaugg, Deni McDaniel, Kaylee Shaner, and Jayda Hoefer have been huge contributors to the success since third grade.
The comradery and family atmosphere hasn’t just been on the court for the Cowgirls, as it has come in the long rides and trips to tournaments. Seniors Morgan Middleton, Jadyn Jondle, Kendall Lienemann, Emma Conlon, Alaina Friesleben, and Nicole Waters have built a strong relationship on and off the court.
“It’s the last regular season match for our seniors with the conference title on the line,” TerHark said. “It’s going to be great in a packed gym to close out the season. Our student section has been doing a fabulous job.
“It is a special time for both teams with all of the seniors. It will be a huge crowd from both sides as we both have tremendous community support.”
McDaniel likes where his team is at heading into this match with the postseason just around the corner.
“I think good competition is a bonus and it’s a perfect time for it,” McDaniel said. “With the conference title on the line, it makes it that much more exciting.”
Kills — Jori Hajek (over 1,000 career digs and kills) 280; Kendal Clark 195; Emily Zaug 165.
Assists — Deni McDaniel 705.
Digs — Hajek 316; Clark 276; McDaniel 265; Jayda Hoefer 139; Zaugg 126.
Blocks — Zaugg 43; Groat 37; Hoefer 28; McDaniel 27.
Serving — McDaniel 359-369; Hajek 299-300; Lily Groat 282-300; Zaugg 244-250; Hoefer 139-144.
Aces — Lily Groat 39; McDaniel 29; Hajek 24; Hoefer 22.
Kills — Morgan Middleton 340; Kendall Lienemann 103.
Assists — Alaina Friesleben 505.
Digs — Jadyn Jondle 178; Lienemann 105; Middleton 85.
Blocks — Lane 42; Middleton 22.
Serving — Lexie Lane 282-304; Friesleben 197-213; Jondle 192-211; Lienemann 170-186; Middleton 165-179.
Aces — Lane 58; Jondle 52; Middleton 40; Friesleben 30.