Panthers bounced by Bishop Ryan
The Rugby High School volleyball team knew it was a tall order playing District 12 champion Bishop Ryan in the Region 6 quarterfinals.
The Panthers didn’t have a girl taller than 5 feet, 9 inches, and the Lions have two players standing 6-foot-1. Ryan took advantage of the smaller opponent en route to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-9, 25-21) win Monday in Minot.
“The intimidation factor was big,” RHS coach Jessica Fritz said, “but I thought our girls played strong. There were some tough hits they didn’t get to, but the girls never gave up.”
The loss marked the end of senior setter Allison Volk’s strong career with the Panthers. The 5-foot-2 Volk registered her assist No. 1,000 earlier in the season and is one of three seniors in the program.
“There’s always gonna be those little milestones and Alli getting her 1,000th assist, that was pretty big,” Fritz said. “Anytime you can coach someone who gets a milestone that’s a nice thing.”
The Panthers will also need to replace Cassandra Jaeger and Keylee Odden, a pair of 5-foot-9 hitters. Junior ReeAnn Christianson will be called on to fill Jaeger’s role as one of the go-to hitters. Replacing Volk may prove more difficult because the offense has gone through her for much of four seasons.
“That’s gonna be a big key,” Fritz said. “We’re looking for Shea Heidlebaugh and Alyssa Mattern to fill in.”
The returning Panthers will draw upon success against top teams like Bottineau. Rugby won the first two games of a five-set loss to the Stars in the District 11 semifinals.
“We’re gonna always look back on our game against Bottineau even though we did lose,” Fritz said. “The girls put a lot into it and played well.”
“It was a good season overall. We finished the season strong, which was the most important thing. You want to peak toward the end of the year and you have to work hard toward those final games.”
Volk led the Panthers with nine assists in the final match of the season. Ryan’s towers Gabbie Bohl and Hannah Stewart had 12 and 9 kills, respectively.
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