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Mandan stuns East Region top seed West Fargo in Class A state volleyball quarterfinals

Mandan team members celebrate their 3-2 win over West Fargo Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, during the North Dakota Class A volleyball tournament at the Fargodome. David Samson / Forum News Service1 / 3
West Fargo's Tiana Pfaff, left, and Mandan's Megan Zander battle at the net Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, during the North Dakota Class A volleyball tournament at the Fargodome. David Samson / Forum News Service2 / 3
West Fargo's Brooklyn Myrvik and Maddie Waldera reach for a return against Mandan Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, during the North Dakota Class A volleyball tournament at the Fargodome. David Samson / Forum News Service3 / 3

FARGO—The West Fargo Packers had their dream season take a detour Thursday afternoon, Nov. 16, at the Fargodome.

The top seed from the East Region had its state championship hopes dashed thanks to the Mandan Braves, the No. 4 seed from the West. Junior hitter Megan Zander had 18 kills and four blocks to lead Mandan to a 25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 16-14 victory against the Packers in the North Dakota Class A state volleyball quarterfinals.

The Packers (32-2) lost for only the second time this season.

"It's hard to process and you really got to feel for the kids," said Packers head coach Kelsey Peterson. "They wanted it and they had one goal. It's something that they've been working hard for, but at the end of the day, tonight's game doesn't tell our story. There is so much more that's gone well for us this season and it's still not over."

Mandan (24-15) advanced to Friday's state semifinals. The Packers will play in the consolation semifinals.

"We had a really good, spectacular defensive game," Zander said. "They're a good hitting team. ... We came out with a lot of energy."

The Packers looked in position to rally for victory after they earned a 25-23 win in the fourth set and built leads of 12-7 and 13-10 in Set 5.

"When that happens, we have to keep pushing and not let momentum get away from us," Zander said.

The Braves responded by scoring nine of the final 11 points in the match. Junior hitter Sydney Walters had a kill that capped a run of four consecutive Mandan points to gave the Braves a 14-13 lead in the final set. Two points later, junior hitter Emily Tweten added a kill that gave Mandan a 15-14 lead. The Braves clinched the match on a West Fargo net violation.

"We play really good defense and that kept us in the match and I think we just kept our composure really well," said Mandan head coach Anna Folk. "We made sure to not let the moment get the best of us."

Senior hitters Kalli Hegerle and Darian Chwialkowski paced the Packers with 19 kills apiece. Hegerle also had 21 assists and 21 digs. Senior hitter Tiana Pfaff chipped in 11 kills.

"I think we just got outplayed," Peterson said. "I think that Mandan came to play. We made way too many mistakes. They played a lot cleaner game than us. At the end of the day, the game comes down to mistakes."

Zander was the lone Mandan player to finish with double-digit kills. Braves junior hitter Olivia Moe had a match-high 37 digs.

"We have to enjoy it, but we have goals that we still need to accomplish," Folk said. "We're still looking for more wins."

MANDAN (kills-blocks-aces): Harris 0-0-1 (22 assists), Weiand 1-0-1 (19 assists), Walters 8-0-0, Moe 4-3-1 (37 digs), Zander 18-4-1, Darras 6-5-0, Leingang 1-0-2 (29 digs), Olson 6-3-0.

WEST FARGO: Myrvik 0-0-0 (12 digs), Chwialkowski 19-1-1 (27 digs), Binstock 3-3-0, Pfaff 11-3-0, Waldera 0-0-1, Morris 0-0-0 (29 assists), Erickson 5-0-1, Hegerle 19-4-1 (21 assists), Becher 1-1-0.

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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