Time to regroup
After a loss to North Star High landed the Rugby Panther Varsity Girls’ Volleyball squad in second place at the Bottineau Invitational Tournament last Saturday, Coach Jessica Fritz said it was time to regroup.
The teams would meet again three days later in Rugby High School’s gym, and the lessons learned over the weekend, plus the familiar territory, made all the difference.
“They (The North Star Bearcats) gave us a run for our money at times. We were able to beat them in one game, lose in the second game. So, tonight’s going to be a fun night to see where we play out now,” Fritz predicted before Tuesday evening’s game. “Different territory, different night, longer games, probably a little more intense at times, too. “
“(The Bearcats) are actually in a different region than us,” Fritz noted. “We love having them on our schedule, because they’re a tough team. They are great opponents. We always love having those non-regional competitive games that get us ready for later on in the season.”
To get ready for Tuesday, Fritz said, “We’ve been doing a lot of practicing and a lot of mental volleyball. We’ve been talking about ‘what do we do if this happens,’ we take care of different situations in games, and what it looks like.”
Fritz said Rugby’s Varsity and JV teams “had great tournaments over the weekend. Both of our squads finished second in their respective tournaments. So, we look at capitalizing on what was good, and hoping to eliminate some of those errors we made.”
Rugby’s JV team placed second after a loss to Velva High Saturday.
Tuesday night, Rugby’s C-Squad, JV and varsity girls met North Star on the Lady Panthers’ home court, prepped for battle.
Their practice and mental volleyball paid off.
Rugby’s C-Squad faced the Bearcats first, struggling in their first match, losing to North Star 15-25. The squad came back to beat North Star in two more games.
The JV girls also faced tough opposition, after beating the Bearcats handily in game 1 25-14. A nail-biting second game saw the JV Panthers top North Star 25-21.
The varsity girls took the court after 7 p.m., ready for redemption.
The Bearcats came on strong, with Danielle Hagler racking up kills to keep the Lady Panther defense hopping in the first half of game 1. As the clock ran on, however, the Panther offense found their footing to lead the team to a 25-21 victory.
Games 2 and 3 saw the Bearcats run out of steam, as Maria and Brooke Blessum scored kills of their own. After a 25-19 Panther victory and a 25-13 rout in the Lady Panthers’ favor in Game 3, Maria Blessum had answered Hagler’s 11 kills with 20 of her own. Brooke Blessum and Anni Stier rounded out the totals with 10 and 9 kills, respectively. Bearcats Mya Halverson scored 6 aces, Jasmine Heisler scored 3, and Kayla Nyhagen scored 3. Panther Maria Blessum tallied 3 aces, while Bearcats Kayla Nyhagen scored 3, and Mya Halverson 2.
Coach Fritz said she was pleased with the night’s results.
“(The Bearcats) are a tough team no matter what. We changed a few things today that we didn’t do over the weekend. We threw our lineup a little bit differently. I think we were able to capitalize on some of that. We started out a little bit slow, too, but we tried a few different things. Once the girls got going, they prevented (North Star) from doing a few things that they had executed over the weekend. We played a stronger defense,” Fritz observed.
Fritz said she looks forward to more practices to sharpen skills for the season, along with non-district games, which will provide more opportunities to prepare for future tournaments.
“We have a little bit of a break,” Fritz noted. “We have a full week, and we have some hard practices to get us ready. It’s still early in the season, where we have a lot of conditioning and training to do. We’ll get ready, and I don’t think we’ll see another district opponent for another week and a half, or two weeks. We just look at these next two games as just getting ready or prepared for the games that will count for our later season.”
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