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Peak for the postseason

By Staff | Oct 18, 2013

Lori Gronvold Rugby’s Emily Stier goes high for a block against Dunseith as the Panthers swept the District 11 matchup on Oct. 15 in the Rugby gym.

With only one more district match remaining on the schedule, the Rugby High School girls volleyball team is trying to hit its peak for the postseason.

The Panthers took a step in the right direction on Oct. 15, sweeping Dunseith 3-0 (25-16, 25-9, 26-24) in a district tilt.

“We had to win,” Panthers head coach Jessica Fritz said. “There weren’t a lot of choices for us. We need to finish strong our last couple of district games so we’re not in the lower half of the district. That’s what we’re looking at right now.”

Cassandra Jaeger paced the Rugby offense, collecting 10 kills while Allison Volk dished out 25 assists.

Darby Deckert and Elizabeth Blessum each had five kills and the Panthers serving game was strong, with Helen Johnson and Lauren Kraft combining for 10 aces.

“Helen played a consistent back row for us,” Fritz said. “We served well and passed well. We did some of the fundamentals the way we should have. We got down on ourselves a few times but we played well when we needed to.”

The Panthers got a postseason tuneup when they traveled to the Carrington Tournament last weekend.

After sweeping Drake-Anamoose in the first round, Rugby fell in the quarterfinals to Carrington, which went on to win the tournament.

“We played some really tough teams,” Fritz said. “We were playing some teams that I was surprised how well they played. It was good for us to play some tough teams. Our second round of the tournament we played Carrington, they’re going to be one of the top teams in their region. It was good to play some other teams.”

Before taking on Dunseith in district play, the Panthers met traditional power Bottineau on Oct. 10.

The Panthers dropped a 3-1 decision to the Stars, winning the third game 25-22.

Although Bottineau cruised to wins in the other three games, Fritz said her team showed they can compete with the district’s best when they play their best.

“We played some strong games against Bottineau,” she said. “They’re a very good team. It was good for us to get that third game out of them. That showed the girls they can do a lot of things.”

Rugby will need to rely on its defense during the District 11 Tournament, and hope to solidify that defense during its final few regular-season matches.

“We struggle against these strong hitting teams,” Fritz said. “We don’t have the strong blockers at the net that we have had in the past. We’re adjusting our defense to that. It’s working, we just have to execute it. We have strong middles but they’re lacking about 1-2 inches across the net.”

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