The level of confidence is just different with this year’s Rugby High School volleyball team. The senior-laden squad is taking on traditional powers and coming out on top.
The Panthers beat Benson County, 3-2, on Sept. 11, and took Region 6 defending champion Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood, 3-2, on the road Tuesday.
“They’re a group that never gives up,” RHS coach Jessica Fritz said. “It’s shown throughout the season. They want to play to the bitter end.”
Junior setter Shea Heidlebaugh suffered a concussion at practice Monday, so senior Alyssa Mattern returned to a position she’s played since seventh grade. Mattern anchored the team with 20 assists, while chipping in 21 digs and a team-high four aces against MLS.
“I went to the back row this year, but it was just like getting back in the swing of things,” Mattern said.
Senior Darby Deckert is also playing well as of late and led the team with 24 digs against the Mavericks and 19 in the win over the Wildcats.
“When it comes down to it we can find a way out,” Deckert said.
Deckert credited the team’s strong blocking and ability to get a lot of players to the net. In both five-set wins, the Panthers won the second and third sets before pulling out the fifth sets.
“Last year we didn’t get along as well,” Mattern said, “but this year we are, and we’ve been playing together for a long time.
The team also performed well last weekend with a fourth-place finish at the Glenburn tourney. The Panthers fell 2-0 to MLS in the third-place match and beat Westhope-Newburg earlier in the day.
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