There may not be two teams that want to beat each other more than the volleyball teams from Stewartville and Kasson-Mantorville.
But coaches and players on both sides agree, the rivalry has developed mainly because of the sustained success of each program.
"As far back as I can remember, even before Larry (Hegerle) coached there, Kasson has always been a great program," Stewartville coach John Dzubay said. "The last two years, K-M has beaten us in the subsection— they were over in a different section for a few years and we were winning (the subsection) year after year, but not anymore.
"We know now just to get to the section (final), we'll have to go through them."
The rivalry has often been unpredictable, always intense, and usually goes a long way in determining the Hiawatha Valley League champion. Last year, that intensity went too far, as several cars were vandalized during the teams' regular season match at Kasson.
"It was just people getting too caught up in the rivalry and not understanding the respect the players and coaches from both programs have for each other," said first-year K-M head coach Adam VanOort, who was an assitant under Hegerle the past two years. "It's a positive rivalry. We're pushing each other to get better all the time."
Two years ago, when Stewartville was led by current University of Minnesota standouts Paige and Hannah Tapp, K-M's Abby Manitz was all but unstoppable in leading the KoMets to two victories against the Tigers, including one in the West Subsection 1AA championship match.
Last season, after the Tapp sisters graduated, Stewartville went to Kasson and swept a regular-season match 3-0. K-M responded with one its best matches of the year when the teams met again in the subsection title match, beating Stewartville 3-0 to earn a trip to the section final.
"We have a lot of good teams in our conference," VanOort said, "but historically it has come down to these two teams. It's not that other teams aren't pushing us, too, but Stewartville has always been the big battle, the big test."
K-M and Stewartville will meet for the first time this season on Tuesday, at 7:15 p.m. at Stewartville. The No. 4-ranked KoMets are 3-0 entering this weekend's Southwest Minnesota State Invitational at Marshall. No. 2-ranked Stewartville was 8-1 going into its match Thursday night at Byron.
Dzubay said he expects the Tigers' gym to be packed, as it always is for their biggest matches.
"We always have a good crowd and both teams get really pumped up for that," he said. "We've had standing-room-only crowds at both places for these matches. But the players on both sides are mature enough that they won't fall apart in that atmosphere. They'll rise to the occasion."
— Jason Feldman
Coach-player altercation in Iowa
Osage, Iowa school superintendent Steve Bass confirms there was an altercation between a coach and student-athlete at last Friday's football game.
Bass told KIMT-TV that he can't reveal the identity of either party because it is a personnel issue. He adds that the discipline is being handled internally and will not be made public at this time.
— Craig Swalboski