Alone at the top

In sports, it is said that the most dangerous team is a winless one. Like a wounded animal, it is poised to strike with nothing to lose. So can an undefeated team be the most vulnerable? "Mentally, yes. Absolutely," said Brad Foss, the bench boss...

In sports, it is said that the most dangerous team is a winless one. Like a wounded animal, it is poised to strike with nothing to lose.

So can an undefeated team be the most vulnerable?

"Mentally, yes. Absolutely," said Brad Foss, the bench boss of the undefeated Trinity Titans volleyball team.

"You can't overlook anything. (Tuesday night) I commented to our kids about the intensity. I thought we were a little lax at times. Just going through the motions doesn't cut it. You have to play with that intensity."

The Titans improved to 9-0 Tuesday night with a four-game home victory over the Richardton-Taylor Raiders to kick off District 14 play.


Raiders coach Brian Filibeck agreed that an undefeated team is vulnerable, but wasn't as confident about the Titans' vulnerability after falling to Trinity for the second time this season.

Richardton-Taylor fell to Trinity in the title match of the Watford City tournament in August.

"You get over confident and put it on cruise control, then things can sneak up on you," Filibeck said. "But they are always well coached. They've been in this position before and know how to handle it. It's going to take a good team to beat them."

The Titans will see plenty of quality opponents in District 14 play, where the six teams have a combined record of 43-20-1. Glen Ullin-Hebron has the lone losing record at 1-7.

"Up at Watford City in that tournament earlier in the year, we kind of got to see Hazen, Beulah, Trinity, Bowman and New England," Filibeck said. "Not a lot of teams lost a lot of graduates so there is going to be good volleyball. I think you are going to see a lot of close four and five game matches."

As Filibeck mentioned, play outside of District 14 won't be any easier with District 13's Bowman County, Heart River, New England and Mott-Regent posting a combined record of 31-9.

The Titans host Bowman County tonight at 7 p.m. at Knights of Columbus Activities Center and New England on Oct. 23.

"With our region as strong as it is, every match we'll have a target on our back," Foss said. "We've had it for quite awhile."


The Titans have two tournaments coming up as well at Valley City on Saturday and in Dickinson on Sept. 21-22. The Titans close out the month of September at Beulah.

Foss is not concerned with how long his team keeps the goose egg posted in the loss column, he said. On Tuesday, he was just happy to start off district play with a win over Richardton-Taylor, which gave the Titans a scare.

"It's a tribute to our kids the longer we can remain undefeated," Foss said. "They are just playing pretty good darn volleyball.

"At sometime, someone is going to get us. I don't think it will be the end of the world when that happens. It will just be a time to refocus and go back at it."

Top contenders

District 13's top team, the Bowman County Bulldogs, will attempt to hand the Titans their first defeat today but that is not what's on the mind of Bowman County coach Kent Harding.

For his team, today's battle is not about Region 7's top team or his Bulldogs knocking off undefeated Trinity, Harding said.

"We're just going there to play well, compete and give ourselves a chance," he said.


The Bulldogs sit at 10-1 atop their district with the lone loss coming at the Watford City tournament to Richardton-Taylor.

Bowman County has already played three District 13 games, picking up victories over Mott-Regent, Hettinger and Beach. The Bulldogs also downed district rival New England in non-district game at Watford City.

"The kids have been hitting the ball well, digging the ball well," Harding said. "We have some good athletes who have been playing together real well."

Bowman County is led on the court by outside hitters Allison Hanson and Lindsey Tivis, as well as middle hitter Brittany Anderson.

Anderson led the Bulldogs with five aces on Tuesday in a win over Bakers (Mont.)

"(Hanson) is a very strong hitter," Harding said. "She plays back row also. She digs well and serves well.

"Lindsey Tivis has really come a long way. Her hitting has made big improvements from last time."

Slow start?


Asked about his Beulah Miners' hot start to the volleyball season, head coach Lou Hansana was quick to bring up his team's two tournament losses, not the 12 wins they've posted thus far.

"The season is still young yet," Hansana said. "We're still working on some small problems we have yet."

Beulah sits in second place with a 12-2 record in District 14 but Hansana said the Miners are not letting themselves get too excited over the start.

"We are just taking it one game at a time," Hansana. "In fact, we're taking it one point at a time when we play. We're keeping it low key."

The Miners kicked off district play with a 25-20, 26-24, 23-25, 25-12 win over Hazen on Tuesday. The game exemplified what seems to be Beulah's largest hurdle right now, itself.

The Miners tend to start games strong but then fall back, Hansana said. Once they get caught, as they did in Game 3 Tuesday, the Miners come roaring back.

"Skill-wise, I think we have it. It comes to the point where sometimes mental mistakes happen. I keep telling them 80-90 percent of the game is mental."

The Miners and led by a group of seniors made up of Tegan Peabody, Courtney McKenzie, Baylee Robinson and Mahrie Schumacher. Hansana also credited two juniors, Hannah Zimmerman and Erica Duewel.


"We have four seniors and two juniors that step right up," Hansana said. "They all seem to lead the team pretty well."

Role reversal

In football, top-ranked Minot Ryan gets one heck of a visit this week.

No. 3-ranked Hazen invades Herb Parker Stadium on the campus of Minot State University in hopes of avenging last year's ugly loss.

"We want to see what we're made of," Philion said.

This year, the tables are turned.

Last season, Hazen entered the game ranked No. 1 and heavily favored, only to fall victim to the Lions' athleticism, though, in the end, it didn't hurt the Bison in the West Region standings.

"We got to go up there last year as the No. 1 team and they came out hard and took it to us," Hazen coach Rick Philion said.


With Ryan ranked No. 1, the Bison hope to score the upset in what is undoubtedly Class AA's biggest game this week.

"Defensively, we're going to have to step it up," Philion said. "We have to keep their offense off the field. They get clicking and running, they can put together nine or 10 minute drives."

Region 6 showdown

Hettinger is hoping to improve to 5-0 this week, but has to go through a resilient Richardton-Taylor team to get there.

The Black Devils haven't had many problems in their 4-0 start. Last week, the team throttled Shiloh Christian 44-22, allowing 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Richardton-Taylor is coming off a bye. The Raiders continue to deal with heartbreak. After losing to Mott-Regent 20-14, R-T dropped a 14-8 heartbreaker to Central McLean on Aug. 31.

A benefit for Hettinger is that it gets to face the Raiders at home.

While Mott-Regent looks to be positioning itself for the top spot in Region 6, Central McLean, Hettinger and R-T are the favorites to fill out the final three playoff spots. With a win over the Raiders already, Central McLean is halfway to the No. 2 spot. R-T needs a win to stay in the running for it.

A Hettinger win would more than likely set up an Oct. 5 showdown for the second seed in the region while the Raiders would fall to No. 4.

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