Pine River-Backus Tigers’ state tournament play ends with two losses

Team still had fun experience

Tigers Volleyball celebrate.jpg
Pine River-Backus volleyball players celebrate a point in the state quarterfinals Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

ST. PAUL — The Pine River-Backus Tigers volleyball team ended its season with a 3-1 loss to the Ely Timberwolves in the Class 1A state consolation semifinals Friday, Nov. 11, at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Tigers won the second set 25-18 to tie the match 1-1, but lost 27-25 in the third set and 25-12 in the fourth.

Hannah Barchus, who was named All-State in Class 1A earlier this week, led the Tigers in her last game wearing orange and black with 16 kills and 20 digs.

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Hannah Barchus goes up for the ball for Pine River-Backus in state tournament quarterfinals play against Mabel-Canton on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Lena Richards / Echo Journal Correspondent

“It was a lot of fun,” Barchus said. “We have a lot of good team chemistry and overall it was fun being at the state tournament.”

Brianna Hanneken chipped in 11 kills and five digs, while Aluara Dahl recorded 38 set assists, three ace serves and 12 digs.


The first set was tied 16-16 before the Timberwolves finished on a 9-1 run to win 25-17.

In the second set, PR-B flipped the script and jumped to an 11-2 lead. The Timberwolves cut it to five points, but the Tigers finished the set on a Hanneken kill.

“We started to play better,” PR-B head coach Josh Hirschey said. “We were making a lot of good passes and we were making better reads. We played well enough to win, just had some unfortunate breaks.”

Barchus shined in the second set with six kills and eight digs. PR-B attacked well in the second set with a hitting percentage of .303 as a team.

“We talked about execution and having fun,” Barchus said. “I feel like everyone had the grit to win.”

The third set played like the first. Back and forth until PR-B captured a 24-21 lead.

PR-B finishes the season with a 27-6 record.

Ely 25 18 27 25


Pine River-Backus 17 25 25 12

Pine River-Backus statistics: Hannah Barchus 16 kills, 20 digs, 1 set assist, 2 blocks; Kassidy Bristow 7 kills, 1 set assist, 17 digs, 1 block; Cate Travis 30 digs, 1 ace serve, 2 set assists; Brianna Hanneken 11 kills, 1 ace serve, 5 digs; Debren Popkes 3 digs; Averie Sawyer 5 kills, 1 set assist; Maegan Irish 1 kill, 3 digs; Alaura Dahl 3 kills, 38 set assists, 3 ace serves, 12 digs, 1 block; Kaitlyn Rilea 1 ace serve, 5 digs

Pine River-Backus Volleyball (7).JPG
Hannah Barchus dives for the ball for Pine River-Backus in state quarterfinal play Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center.
Lena Richards / Echo Journal

Mabel-Canton 3, Tigers 0

On Thursday, Nov. 10, PR-B recorded more kills than No. 3 Mabel-Canton, but tallied 27 hitting errors and seven serving errors as the Cougars swept the Tigers in the Class 1A quarterfinals.

Coach Hirschey didn’t have an answer for all the miscues his team made.

“I wish I could’ve come up with an answer a little sooner,” he said. “For a few of the girls it might’ve been the worst match of their season, unfortunately. I don’t know if it was the bright lights or what. I give (Mabel-Canton head) coach Lonnie (Morken) and his crew a lot of credit. I know we had some errors that contributed to it but he’s got a good team.”

Hannah Barchus led PR-B with 16 kills and 14 digs. Setter Alaura Dahl recorded 31 set assists, 12 digs and three ace serves. Mabel-Canton was led by setter Sahara Morken who recorded 29 set assists and 12 digs. Saijal Slafter led the Cougars with 14 kills.

The Tigers recorded 36 kills and 27 errors on 142 attempts for a hitting percentage of .063. On the flip side, the Cougars committed just 11 errors and 33 kills on 124 attempts for a .177 hitting percentage.


After a back-and-forth start to the first set, Mabel-Canton went on a 4-0 run to take an 11-7.

The Tigers roared back to tie it at 11, but the Cougars went on a 6-1 run to lead 18-15.

Mabel-Canton led 24-19, but the Tigers made the Cougars sweat with three straight points. The Cougars closed out PR-B 25-22.

“I was just really happy with our first performance at state,” Morken said. “It’s been 21 years since we’ve been here and the girls have been dreaming about this moment.”

In the second set, PR-B took an early lead, but Mabel-Canton went on a 6-0 run to make it 9-5 Cougars.

The Tigers trailed 16-11 before cutting the Cougar lead to two. Mabel-Canton got the lead back to 21-16 and won the second set 25-20.

Mabel-Canton 25 25 25

Pine River-Backus 22 20 15


Pine River-Backus statistics: Hannah Barchus 16 kills, 1 set assist, 14 digs, 1 block; Kassidy Bristow 4 kills, 11 digs, 3 blocks; Cate Travis 23 digs, 1 ace serve; Brianna Hanneken 7 kills, 2 digs; Debren Popkes 1 set assist, 1 block; Averie Sawyer 7 kills, 1 dig; Alaura Dahl 2 kills, 31 set assists, 3 ace serves, 12 digs, 1 block; Kaitlyn Rilea 10 digs, 1 set assist

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