Girls rolling in district
The Rugby High School volleyball team is very clear about its goal for regular season district play. Win all six matches and a first-round bye in the District 11 tournament is guaranteed. After Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Drake-Anamoose, the Panthers (14-5 overall, 3-0 district) are halfway there.
“It’s very important,” RHS junior setter Shea Heidlebaugh said. “It feels good to be in the driver’s seat and getting that first-round bye will be pretty important.”
RHS beat the Raiders 25-20, 25-23 and 25-16.
After committing 10 service errors through the first two sets, the Panthers made just two in the third. Heidlebaugh closed the second set on serve and senior Emily Stier recorded a block to close a long rally and escape the most uncomfortable set of the evening. Stier led the team with four kills and Heidlebaugh had 15 assists.
Heidlebaugh opened the third set on serve and RHS built a 4-0 lead. RHS was dominant in the frame and a kill from junior Lauren Kraft made the score 13-5.
“I feel like we’re all pretty strong hitters and can step up to the plate when we need to,” Kraft said. “Everyone can get that one hit.”
By the time Heidlebaugh returned to serving position the lead was 18-9. She connected on ace to push the advantage to double digits, forcing a timeout from the visitors.
“I’ve struggled this year, but I just decided that it’s just a serve and it doesn’t matter that much,” Heidlebaugh said. “I just have to get it over the net. You try to hit it too hard and it goes off your hand wrong. You don’t have to get an ace every time.”
Stier followed with a pair of kills. The Raiders went on a mini run, but a long hit gave RHS the game-winning point. The consistent serving from the likes of Heidlebaugh gave RHS early advantages, forcing D-A to play from behind.
“She’s been a very consistent server,” RHS coach Jessica Fritz said. “She has her moments where she’ll miss, but can pull it back and serve well and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Senior Kassi Jorgenson led the team with three aces and senior Darby Deckert had 17 digs. Classmate Alicia Leier had 10 digs.
The Panthers hosted district foe Westhope-Newburg on Thursday and finish regular season district play at Velva on Tuesday and at Bottineau on Oct. 9.
“We just have to play consistent,” Fritz said. “Bottineau will be a big challenge. We got one win against them, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
On Sept. 25, the Panthers beat Sawyer 3-2 in an exciting home battle.
“We just stayed consistent,” Fritz said. “The girls just kind of said we play better on Thursdays. I hope we can do that every day.”
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