Class B District 11 volleyball tourney up for grabs

As Class B district volleyball tournaments get underway today at various locations around the state, one of the more competitive tournaments could be District 11.

The District 11 tournament begins today with three quarterfinal matches at Velva High School.

The Rugby Panthers (21-6-1) enter the tournament as the top seed, and will receive a first-round bye. The Panthers will face the winner of today’s Newburg/Westhope and Drake-Anamoose match in the semifinals on Friday.

“We are going into tournaments with a new season attitude,” Rugby coach Jessica Fritz said. “We know that everything we have done during the regular season is now over and this is a fresh start for all the teams in our district.”

The Panthers enter the tournament having won 13 of their last 16 matches. Rugby is led on the season by Maria Blessum with 177 kills, while Sara Stier is close behind with 175.

“We had some close games this year with our district opponents and we know we have to show up every day of tournaments ready to play,” Fritz said.

Rugby’s toughest competition in the tournament will come from second-seeded Towner-Granville-Upham and third-seeded Velva-Sawyer.

T-G-U (10-4) enters the tournament off a four-game win over St. John on Tuesday night.

“For the most part, (the girls) are playing with confidence and trusting their skills.,” T-G-U coach Julie Smesrud said. “I am quite optimistic.”

The Titans open the tournament today against seventh-seeded Nedrose in a match that will begin at roughly 5:30 p.m.

Smesrud says her team needs to play to its fullest potential to have success.

“Everyone has to come ready to play and be willing to put it all out on the floor,” she said. “We need to hit with confidence, keep serving well and playing good defense.”

The final match of the day will feature the host Aggies facing sixth-seeded Bottineau at roughly 7 p.m.

The Aggies enter the tournament with a 22-8 mark, and are led by Jonnah Lee. On the season, the Velva-Sawyer senior has 280 kills, while teammate Dani Craig has 292 assists.

And Velva-Sawyer coach Molly Terveen says her team is doing just enough to win matches.

“We haven’t been playing our best volleyball, but we are finding a way to win,” she said. “Last season, we would get caught up in our own heads and that would affect the outcome of the game, but this year we have found a way to play through that. We are strong in all aspects of the game, it’s just a matter of putting it all together at the same time.”

The tournament title match, along with the region-qualifiers will be played Monday, also in Velva.

The top four teams from the tournament will advance on to the Region 6 tournament to be played Nov. 7-8, 10 at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Mark Jones covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MarkJones27_MDN.