Rugby ends season at Region 6 Tournament
The season ended in an all too familiar place for Rugby.
The Panthers fell in the first round of the Region 6 Volleyball Tournament in Minot on Nov. 9.
Rugby dropped a three-set match to top-seed Kenmare, which advanced to the championship for the third straight year. It was the second season in a row the Honkers defeated Rugby in the first round and third time in the past four seasons.
The Panthers had little answer for Kenmare standout Katie King. She dominated the net, finishing with a match-high 14 kills.
“She was definitely a factor,’ Panther coach Brenda Olsen said. “Our middle hitters are small compared to her and she was able to put the ball down (in the back row) somewhere different every time.”
Rugby actually took an early lead in set one, and the score remained fairly close until Kenmare rattled off nine straight points en route to a 25-11 win.
In set two, the Honkers built a 6-0 lead, but Rugby managed to pull within three points of Kenmare. Senior Mariya Bernhardt recorded back-to-back aces for the Panthers during that stretch of good play.
However, any momentum Rugby had was quickly wrestled away by the Honkers who eventually won the set 25-12.
“It seemed like when we would make a small run the would step up their play even more,’ Olsen said. “That’s what good teams do.”
The teams traded the first four points to begin the third set, but Kenmare took command thanks to the net play of Erika Lemere and King.
The bright spot of the set for the Panthers was surviv-ing five straight match points before succumbing to Kenmare, 25-15.
For the most part, Rugby played a fairly clean match, not committing too many unforced errors and Olsen worked in her reserves. “I wanted to get all my seniors a chance to be out there as well as the three juniors,’ she said.
Kenmare, the defending region champ, simply had too many weapons and showed why they entered the tournament as the favorite.
Rugby seniors Kristin Migler and Kelsey Leier and junior Jessica Jaeger led the Panthers with three kills each. Senior Anne Schmaltz had eight assists. Jaeger finished with three blocks. Senior Bernhardt had two service aces and senior Marina Laughridge had 34 digs.
Olsen said Laughridge particularly had a good match covering the back row.
The loss was a tough end for Rugby’s large senior class who entered the season with a lot of experience. They helped the program post a winning record (11-9) for the first time in recent memory.
“I was expecting to go into that locker room (after the match) and see a lot of heads hanging, but they were all pretty positive,’ Olsen said. “They knew what they were up against and played a strong match.”
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