Youth hasn't stopped the Bishop Ryan volleyball players from achieving athletic success.
Five sophomores and six juniors join two seniors on a varsity roster stacked with three-sport athletes. Three current Lions played for the Class A state softball runner-up team in June and took fifth in the Class B state basketball tournament in March.
"Every one of our girls are competitive and we're all athletic," junior outside hitter Anika Rovig said, "and we hate losing."
Junior defensive specialist Sydney Landsiedel digs a ball during a Bishop Ryan practice on Monday.
The Lions hope for similar success on the volleyball court in 2012. Ryan finished fifth in District 12 last year, but won its way into the Region 6 tournament before being eliminated by Bottineau.
Ryan has no shortage of height. Senior outside hitter Dani Will, sophomore outside hitter Hannah Stewart and sophomore middle hitter Gabbie Bohl are all taller than six feet.
The Lions have spent preseason practices working on their ballhandling in anticipation for Saturday's Hazen Invite.
"(Height's) our easy strength," second-year coach Patty Luetzen said. "We have the potential for good ball-handling that will come with lots and lots of repetition."
The Lions didn't have offseason practices and expect early mistakes to be corrected as the season goes on.
"We're just getting back into the swing of things," Rovig said. "Every team has to work through all the mistakes that they go through. All teams have that. You play games and you learn from what you did wrong."
Some of the young Lions will have an opportunity to use late-season playing time from a year ago as valuable experience entering the new year.
Maddie Wald is one of these players. The 5-foot-3 sophomore the team calls "Mighty Mouse" will be the team's top libero after becoming a starter near the end of last year.
Luetzen likes Wald's tenacity.
"There's a lot of athleticism in that small little package," Luetzen said. "She's fearless. ... She plays big for (5-foot-3)."
Senior outside hitter Quinn Harmon said she wants to make the most of her last chance to beat teams like Region 6 defending champion Kenmare and local rival Our Redeemer's Christian School.
"We're friends with the girls from the schools and stuff," Harmon said, "but it's just really nice to beat those good teams."