RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander High School volleyball team did something unprecedented for their program last year: win a conference championship.
Their quest to repeat in the Great Northern Conference got off to a good start Tuesday night at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium, as the Hodags defeated Lakeland in four games.
Three players had double-digit kills for Rhinelander. The Hodags were forced to rally back from a game one defeat to take the 18-25, 25-15, 25-21, 27-25 victory.
The Thunderbirds used a string of nine straight points to pull ahead and put away the opening game.
"We started out really slow, really tight, being our first game at home, especially some of the younger players. It took us a little too long to get into it and we gave away game one," said Rhinelander coach Paul Mildebrandt after the match.
But then the Hodags got going. Rhinelander eased into an offensive and defensive comfort zone to win game two and reverse the momentum.
"We started reading some of their transitions and their weapons a little bit better," Mildebrandt said.
Rhinelander also used some well-placed serves to their advantage. For the match, the Hodags tallied 14 service aces.
The home team ripped off nine points in a row in game three to take a commanding lead, but the Thunderbirds clawed back to tie it at 21-21. Then, Rhinelander flipped the momentum once again, putting away the final four points.
That surge carried over to game four, when the Hodags won the first five points. But Lakeland mounted another comeback, and claimed a 18-16 lead late in the game. After working their way back to a 22-22 tie, Rhinelander squandered two opportunities to end the match before finally putting Lakeland away.
Brianna Gilbert led the Hodags with 16 kills. Returning first-team all-conference selection Katie Berrell added 14, and Riley Aschenbrenner chipped in with ten.
Before the match, RHS athletic director Brian Paulson welcomed back longtime Hodags coach Kathy Wawrzynowicz in a special ceremony. Wawrzynowicz had been tending to an emotional family illness and death, but has made her way back into the program on a limited basis.
"This summer has been really hard on her. But being part of this volleyball program is part of her healing process," Mildebrandt said.
The Hodags next travel to Beaver Dam for a Saturday invitational. They return to Great Northern Conference action next Tuesday, visiting Northland Pines.
MERRILL - County lands exist for the public to enjoy.
But when people mistreat the land it can cost thousands of dollars to fix.
After a group of trucks damaged county land in Tomahawk over the weekend, Lincoln County wants to send a warning to other drivers.
Lieutenant Tim Fischer from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says places with county forest and logging roads tend to be easy targets for people who want to tear through the woods on their vehicles.
"[It causes] damage to the property that isn't easily repaired.
[It] prohibits county workers from accessing areas in the forest that they have to get to," said Fischer.
People find mud holes and drive their cars through them.
WOODRUFF - Sixty-three Wildfires burned all across the state in the last week.
The DNR suspended burning permits in 44 counties Monday, including all counties in the Northwoods.
The fire danger level ranged from "High" to "Very High" in most counties.
DNR fire crews have been on stand-by all day Monday.
"On days like today we are fully staffed and on high alert. All our stations are pre-positioning equipment. We're taking equipment from one part of the state and moving it to more critical areas. We are definitely on high alert," said Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - The case of a woman found hanged in her car will go down as an "undetermined death."
Michelle Rosinski was found in a car outside a Lac du Flambeau home on Longs Point Lane last September. Emergency responders tried CPR on Rosinski, but they couldn't revive her. The 45-year-old woman had a choker-style dog collar wrapped around her neck.
The Vilas County Sheriff's Office initially investigated her death as suspicious. But Monday, Lt. Carl Gauger told Newswatch 12 it appears Rosinski probably committed suicide.
VILAS COUNTY - Twelve jurors will consider a he said, she said case involving accusations of a sexual assault at knife point.
The trial for 36-year-old Rodney Teets began in Vilas County Court Monday morning.
Teets is accused of sexually assualting a 19 year old woman at knife point in July 2015.
He faces three counts of first degree sexual assault, which he will try to fight in trial.
After several hours of jury selection, attorneys began their opening statements Monday afternoon.
According to the July 2015 criminal complaint, Teets and the woman involved were driving back to his house after watching fireworks with a group of people.
That's when the woman said Teets pulled out a knife and told her to drive down a dead end road. Assistant Attorney General Devra Ayala, who is prosecuting the case, said that Teets admits to always carrying a pocket knife.
Next, according to the complaint, the woman said Teets, knife in hand, sexually assaulted her.
According to the complaint, the woman said Teets told her, "If you tell anyone I'll [expletive] kill you."
According to the complaint, the woman said the group they had been with called both of their cell phones asking where they were. The woman claims Teets said he forgot his keys and told her to say the same.
Later that night, the woman called the police.
When police interviewed Teets, he said the encounter was consensual.
That's what Teets's defense attorney will try to argue. In his opening statement, defense attorney Steven Lucareli said Teets and the woman were friends and often joked with each other.
"He said from day one, 'I cheated on my wife,'" said Lucareli.
Lucareli also said the woman in this case had no injuries from the encounter.
The trial is scheduled on the calendar for the whole week.
Tuesday, the state will start calling its witnesses.
RHINELANDER - You can get almost anywhere around Pine Lake on an ATV or UTV. But there are two key Oneida County highways that don't currently allow those vehicles. Now, a Rhinelander-area ATV club is pushing the county to change that.
The Pine Lake ATV/UTV Club hopes the county will allow access on highways W and C. The club formed about a year ago and got town approval to open access to all Pine Lake roads except for North and West Birchwood drives.
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