Cards are stacked in favor of host Tigers for district playoffs
Everything seems rosy for the New England volleyball team entering the District 13 tournament. The Tigers are the two-time defending district champions and have a bye in the opening round of this year's tournament, which they happen to host. That...
Everything seems rosy for the New England volleyball team entering the District 13 tournament.
The Tigers are the two-time defending district champions and have a bye in the opening round of this year's tournament, which they happen to host.
That doesn't mean New England is in safe harbor though.
"This is going to be one of those (tournaments) where you have New England being a little bit of a favorite, but with this, there's probably going to be some upsets," Heart River coach Craig Pool said. "Probably who's playing the cleanest as each game progresses."
Fourth-seeded Mott-Regent and fifth-seeded Hettinger kick off the tournament at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon at New England High School. Second-seeded Heart River then plays seventh-seeded Scranton and third-seeded Bowman County wraps up the day of matches against sixth-seeded Beach.
New England plays the winner of the Mott-Regent and Hettinger match on Monday afternoon.
"The way the tournament is set up is kind of tricky," New England coach Jodi Jung said. "It's nice to see the other teams play and how they're playing before we have to play. It's definitely a good thing to have that bye."
New England may need a couple extra days to recuperate after being swept by rival Dickinson Trinity in their regular-season finale on Tuesday.
However, the Tigers (25-9) still possess the tools necessary to walk away with their third consecutive district title.
Led by the two-headed attacking monster of senior Dana Kuhn (243 kills) and junior Shari Hewson (238), New England (25-9) is enjoying another stellar season.
Although Heart River (26-8) boasts a better overall record than New England, two of its losses - one in district play, another in a tournament - came against the Tigers.
"To beat them, you're going to have to bring your best game," Pool said.
Like New England, the Cougars have power hitters but also have the ability to share the workload.
Senior Megan Richard leads the team with 215 kills. Ashlynn Evoniuk has contributed 195 and Lynae Rambousek has 187.
On the flip side, Bowman County is still finding its feet after losing one of its top players to rules violations.
"Since that time we dropped off a bit," Bulldogs coach Kent Harding said. "It took us a while to try to make up for her absence, or find our rhythm without her in our lineup anymore."
Still, the Bulldogs have the ability make noise thanks to an experienced corps of players. Junior outside hitter Allison Hanson leads the district with 296 kills.
The fourth-seeded Wildfire are the district's wild card.
Senior Emily Krauter leads Mott Regent with 283 kills and 46 blocks.
The Wildfire kept things close in losses to New England and Heart River earlier this month.
Pool said he is wary of Mott-Regent and believes they have the best chance at securing an upset sometime during the tournament.
"There's not anybody anywhere you want to face and feel comfortable," Pool said. "It's going to come down to who's most consistent and on top of their games."