In the wild, tigers are a solitary animal.
On the volleyball court, the Pine River-Backus Tigers rally around one leader - senior Naomi Anderson.
The three-year letterwinner collected 22 kills and 14 blocks in a 3-2 victory over Crosby-Ironton Sept. 10.
A day later she added eight kills and two blocks in a sweep of Pillager.
"I've been running more along the net," said Anderson, who plays basketball and runs track and field. "I've added different attacks so I'm able to switch things up a lot more than last year. That's allowed me to go around the block."
During the Barb Neprud Invite Sept. 16 in Crosby, the Tigers finished 4-0 to win the title. In three of those games Anderson tallied 29 kills, 10 blocks and four digs.
"She is versatile and because of her quickness and her agility we can do different things offensively when she is out there," said Tigers coach Alisa Den-Hartog. "She's also willing to try different things. We didn't have that complex of an offense before, but now we're capable of doing that. Our setter is more athletic and capable of running a more complex offense and Naomi is willing to try different things and work on getting better at them."
Anderson added 16 kills and two blocks against Laporte Sept. 17 and 13 kills, two blocks, one dig and one set assist against Sebeka Sept. 18.
While she would love to play the entire rotation, Anderson understands her teammates are better suited for the back row. Her unselfishness has helped the Tigers win 32 of 35 games for a 13-0 record. It's also helped her become the team leader.
"Her leadership is her biggest strength," said Den-Hartog. "She's been on varsity for three years. She's a great athlete and a good leader. When she goes into the game we expect a lot from her. There is a lot of pressure on her shoulders and she handles that well."
Anderson hopes to lead the team back to state. She said she's doing that with intensity, a positive attitude and communication.
School: Pine River-Backus
Position: Middle blocker
Key stat: Led the Tigers to a 6-0 week with 59 kills, 26 blocks and four digs
"I'm very happy with the way the season has gone so far," said Anderson. "We have this sweet ability where we can be down but come back and win. In the C-I tournament we were down to C-I 24-19, but came back and won. I love that about our team. Sometimes it takes awhile to get going, but once we get to that intensity point it's hard for us to lose it."
Other notable performances:
Cross country: Kylie Beltz, Pequot Lakes, won the Northland Invite in 15:27.
Naomi Landecker, Staples-Motley, won the Lucky Lindy in 14:44.
Tennis: Kelsey Klucas and Nicole Beneke, Aitkin, finished the week 3-0.
Staples-Motley Cardinals swept all seven spots to win the Mid-State Conference title.
Volleyball: Katie Wangberg, Pine River-Backus, finished the week with 45 set assists, 10 ace serves, nine digs, six kills and one block.
Brigetta Berg, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished the week with 38 digs, 33 kills, six blocks and two ace serves.
Andre'a Wynn, Crosby-Ironton, finished the week with 50 digs, 20 blocks, 42 set assists, 37 kills and four ace serves.
Kaylee Hawks, Pierz, finished with 27 digs, 10 kills, four blocks and three ace serves against Mora.
Katie Kimman, Pierz, finished the week with 29 digs, 36 kills, 13 ace serves and four blocks.
Katie Zetah, Staples-Motley, finished the week with 24 kills, 23 digs and two ace serves.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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