District 11 volleyball tournament underway
The District 11 volleyball tournament kicked off Thursday with No. 5 seed Rugby facing No. 4 Westhope-Newburg. The winner was set to face the winner of No. 1 Bottineau and No. 8 Sawyer.
The championship and Region 6 qualifying matches will be played Monday.
Rugby coach Jessica Fritz prepared her team for the tournament with the mindset that it’s a wide open field.
“Bottineau did win (the regular season title) they played strong, but we took them four games and as the No. 5 seed usually that doesn’t happen,” Fritz said, “so anybody could come out of this district tournament winning, so that’s really nice.”
The Panthers fell to Westhope-Newburg (9-17) in a five-game regular season meeting with a full roster. Rugby (13-18) doesn’t have that luxury this week because senior outside hitters Cassandra Jaeger and Keylee Odden are in Kentucky for the Future Farmers of America national convention.
“We’re playing a different game and we have a lot of girls who have to step up and fill some holes,” Fritz said.
That starts with junior middle blocker ReeAnn Christianson, who will fill Jaeger’s spot and need to be a force on both ends.
“(Christianson’s) playing a solid middle,” Fritz said. “(Tuesday) she played really well. She did a great job.”
The Panthers dropped their regular season finale 3-0 to Rolla, the No. 3 seed in District 8, on Tuesday.
“The girls did some good things last night,” Fritz said. “They got some solid blocks against some great hitters. The teamwork is huge right now. We have to stay positive on the court and we can’t ever give up.”
Westhope-Newburg also lost Tuesday in a 3-0 match with Rolette-Wolford. Fritz was eager to see her team avenge the previous loss to the Sioux for a shot at Bottineau, who swept most teams in the district. Rugby took a set against the Stars.
“I think it’s the jersey,” Fritz said. “They see the purple and they just think, ‘Oh no, it’s Bottineau.’ That’s half the battle, just getting over that mental block.
“When we played them and we won (a set), I mean, the girls were just excited. They were happy, they were having fun. Bottineau’s another smart team. They can just kind of put their serve anywhere they want, they can put their hit anywhere they want and that makes it tough.”
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