Panther Volleyball on a Roll
This well-coached, hard-fighting Rugby Panther volleyball team continues their winning ways with a sweep over Leeds on Sept. 10, a third-place finish in the Glenburn Tournament on Sept. 12 and another sweep this time against Nedrose on Sept. 15.
Senior Lauren Kraft led the way against Leeds with 7 kills, 3 aces, 6 digs and 3 blocks, earning her player of the game honors. This was an all-around team win, with freshman sensation Maria Blessum adding 7 kills and 5 digs. Sara Stier contributed 5 kills and 3 blocks. Shea Heidlebaugh added 17 assists, displaying senior leadership with her always-steady play. The Panthers won with scores of 25-21, 25-15, and 25-20.
At the Glenburn Tournament the team opened up with a series win over TGU with scores of 26-24, 14-25 and 15-10. They continued their winning ways with straight set wins 25-13/25-13 against Surrey and 25-10/25-9 against Dunseith. The Panthers lost to Kenmare in a hard-fought match, 19-22, and a squeaker, 19-20. They again played Kenmare in the semifinal match and just couldn’t overcome the more experienced team, losing 15-25 and 20-25. The Panthers bounced back, playing hard and as a team against Sawyer, winning in straight sets 25-21 and 25-21 to take third at the tournament. This was a team win from a squad who accentuates togetherness and teamwork. Key players in the tournament were: Heidlebaugh, who had a team leading 51 assists with 4 aces. Blessum continued her strong play with 22 kills, 12 aces and 5 blocks. Stier also had a strong showing with 13 kills, 3 aces, 12 blocks and 14 digs. Kraft added 13 kills, 2 aces, 3 blocks and 1 kill. Ashley Schmaltz contributed 3 kills, 4 aces and 11 blocks. Jaque Blessum had 2 aces and 1 block. And Abby Volk had 2 digs and 2 assists.
To end the week the Panthers beat Nedrose in straight sets 25-1, 25-8 and 25-9 to take the match. Volk and Karsyn Hager were named co-players of the game. Volk had 6 aces, and Hager had 7 kills and 1 dig. Maria Blessum contributed 5 kills and 3 aces. Heidlebaugh had 6 aces. Anni Stier had 1 block, and Sara Stier had 1 dig.
In a meeting with the well-liked volleyball Head Coach Jessica Fritz, she said about her team and their recent performance, “I am very impressed how these young girls are putting it together with not many returning players with varsity experience. These girls are putting it together and not at the positions they are used to.” She continued, ” What impresses me the most is the selfless play of the players like Ashley Schmaltz, who has not always been a middle hitter, but that is where we need her and she has done a tremendous job stepping up and playing hard. Maria Blessum is a freshman, she is leading or at the top in every game in kills. Lauren Kraft has been doing an exceptional job hitting and playing defense. And what can you say about Shea Heidlebaugh? Her leadership and her play is vital to our success. But its not just these girls, it’s the whole team working together.” Coach Fritz added, ” I couldn’t be more proud of this young team and what they have accomplished so far and how far they have come.” She concluded, “They are so much more than players to me, they are like my family.”
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