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Rugby faces tough test

By Staff | Nov 6, 2009

Rugby has been in this position before, playing the underdog at the Region 6 Volleyball Tournament.

Despite turning in their best regular season in recent memory, the Panthers (11-8) enter the tournament again seeded fourth and again will face Kenmare, the top seed from District 12.

The teams will play this Monday, Nov. 9 at the Minot Auditorium. It will be the third first round match of the day, beginning approximately 5:45 p.m.

The Honkers swept Rugby in last season’s first round en route to the regional title.

Rugby, meanwhile, has lost its last five firstround matches at regionals and has yet to win a set.

Brenda Olsen, Rugby coach, knows her team will have their hands full again. Kenmare attacks the net hard, passes well and doesn’t make many unforced errors.

“They have such a good program up there,” Olsen said. “They’ve been district champion five years in a row.”

Yes, the Panthers will have to be sharp to have any chance of pulling the upset.

“I told the girls it’s a ‘David vs. Goliath’ type of match for us,” Olsen said. “We can’t go into that match timid. We have to play with confidence.”

Getting off to a good start would help the Panthers settle into the match. Last season, Kenmare took a quick lead and Rugby was playing catchup the entire match.

Olsen said her squad has to play a clean match, limit unforced errors and force Kenmare into committing some. And Rugby needs to play relaxed, realize the pressure is on the favored Honkers.

“We have to simply go out and work as hard as we can,” Olsen said. “And see where that takes us.”

Hopefully to unchartered waters – the regional semifinals.

A team from District 12 has won four of the past five region tournament titles, including the past three. That trend likely will continue this season. Kenmare and Our Redeemer’s (Minot) are the favorites to meet in Thursday evening’s, Nov. 12 championship match. The teams met in the District 12 Tournament championship.

Velva is District 11’s best hope to win three matches and earn a Class B state tournament berth. The Aggies are riding high after defeating Bottineau in the District 11 championship match, snapping the Stars’ string of seven consecutive tourney titles.

The tournament kicks off at 3 p.m. on Nov. 9 with No. 1 Velva playing No. 4 Glenburn. No. 2 Our Redeemer’s (Minot) will then meet No. 3 Newburg-Westhope. The third match will be No. 1. Kenmare against No. 4 Rugby. The final match of the day will feature No. 2 Bottineau against No. 3 Lewis and Clark (Berthold).

The semifinals will begin at 6 p.m. on Nov. 10. The third place match and championship will be played on Nov. 12.

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