Tuesday's clash of Class 2A heavyweights Kasson-Mantorville and Stewartville is, understandably, our Top Game of the Week. There is, of course, plenty at stake: Namely, regular-season bragging rights and a Hiawatha Valley League championship go to the winner.
Still, it doesn’t have the feel of a big-ticket main event.
Perhaps that’s because for at least the past eight years the regular-season meeting between these rivals has always been a preview of a subsection championship. Not this year.
Stewartville, ranked No. 1 in the Class 2A coaches' poll from Sept. 30, has moved into Section 1's East Subsection and out of the West, where No. 3-2A Kasson-Mantorville still resides. If the two meet in the postseason this year, it'll be in the Section 1 title match.
Needless to say, Stewartville coach John Dzubay is happy with the move, although he realizes that in the ultracompetitive Section 1 there is no easy path. Lake City stands in the Tigers’ (14-1, 7-0) path this year.
“When you can’t get out of the subsection and you’re the No. 1-ranked team in the state, that’s kind of hard to take,” Dzubay said.
Dzubay thinks his team matches up better with this year’s KoMets (20-2, 8-0) squad than in recent seasons — including two years ago when the then-top-ranked Tigers lost to the KoMets in the postseason.
Keep an eye on Stewartville junior middle hitter Erin Lamb, who announced her commitment to the University of Kentucky last week.
Kasson-Mantorville coach Adam VanOort, for his part, is not putting a lot of weight on Tuesday’s match. He said the Class 2A, Section 1 championship and state tournament berth are his team’s primary goals.
“While the conference matchup with Stewartville is always exciting and high-energy, we treat it more as a measuring stick and learning experience than anything else,” he said.