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Panthers wither Woodchucks

By Staff | Sep 13, 2013

Rugby’s Elizabeth Blessum digs up a ball during a game between the Panthers and St. John on Sept. 10

The Rugby High School volleyball team turned a strong showing last weekend at the Bottineau Tournament into some momentum.

That momentum manifested itself into a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-18) sweep over St. John in the team’s home opener on Sept. 10.

The win came just three days after the Panthers took fifth place in the Bottineau Tournament, falling to eventual champion North Star in the quarterfinals before winning its final two matches in tournament play.

Rugby topped Glenburn 2-0 (25-20, 28-26) and Wilton-Wing (25-23, 23-25, 15-9) to take the consolation title.

“Definitely a little carryover (from the tournament),” Panthers head coach Jessica Fritz said. “We have a few day break now and we have another tournament in Glenburn where we have a lot of tough competition. I’m hoping they take that with them.”

Rugby’s Lauren Kraft skies for a spike to help the Panthers sweep St. John on Sept. 10. Chris Bieri/PTC

The Panthers got off to a quick start, pouncing on the Woodchucks in the first game.

The second game looked a lot like the first as Rugby built a big lead. But St. John battled back, rattling off seven straight points to knot the game and even took brief leads late in the game.

But Rugby continued to battle back and finished off the game for a 25-22 win.

“I’m happy they finished the game,” Fritz said. “That’s one thing I’ve discovered with these girls through our tournament, and now today. If they get down, they usually have it in them to fight back and get back in the game and do what they need to do to win it.”

Cassandra Jaeger led the Panthers with nine kills and Emily Stier added six kills.

Rugby was very aggressive at the service line as Elizabeth Blessum charted five aces and Allison Volk and Stier each added three. Volk led the way with 22 assists and Blessum and Helen Johnson paced the back row with four digs apiece.

“We actually started a new defense this week so I was kind of nervous with how it would go, but the girls adjusted well,” Fritz said. “We have some things we obviously have to work on but the girls are getting a little bit better every day and that’s the key right now.”

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