Volleyball Team Wins Again
The Rugby High School volleyball team continues to peak just at the right time with district play starting Thursday. The Panthers ended their regular season with another straight set win against the Glenburn Panthers on Tuesday night. Rugby took the sets 25-17, 25-11 and 25-15 and seemed to be able to turn it on at will any time the Glenburn team gained ground on them. With the victory, the Panthers end the regular season with a 21-10 record and were undefeated at home and in their region.
The Rugby Panthers came out upbeat, aggressive and sure of themselves with strong serving coming from Ashley Schmaltz and Jacque Blessum; and Maria Blessum kept up her season-long veracity at the net. Shea Heidlebaugh continued her amazing play as setter with another 20-plus assist night. Senior Lauren Kraft, along with Sophomore Sara Stier, also had an outstanding night, giving the Panthers a great home victory and the momentum desired going into districts.
Maria Blessum and Schmaltz lead the offense with 8 kills and 4 kills, respectively. Schmaltz and Jacque Blessum continued to showoff their serving skills, each having 5 aces. The Rugby Panthers defense was led by Stier who had 8 digs, while Maria Blessum showed her commitment to defense to go along with her offense and had 7 digs. Kraft along with fellow senior continued their yearlong stellar play with 4-blocks apiece. Heidlebaugh who was also named PCT/Hardware Hank’s Athlete of the Week, ended the night with 22 assists. To put this feat in perspective, the Glenburn Panthers’ Anna Zelenski led her team in assist swith 6. Heidlebaugh ended the regular season averaging over 20 assists per game.
“We lost seven seniors from last year to graduation and they were quality players, we knew we had some great players coming back but they didn’t have the court time so it was really an unknown”, shared Coach Jessica Fritz about her expectations coming into the year. When asked what contributed to this year’s success and the number one seating in Districts Coach Fritz said, “Every game, every missed opportunity the players learned from. All the players were committed to learning, playing as team.. That is why the early tournaments were so important it allowed us to learn and grow as a team”
The Panthers began district play Thursday at Rugby’s Charlie Hanneman Gym. The tournament will last through Monday. Rugby is was rewarded for its outstanding regular season play with a number one seed in the district tournament.
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