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A humble athlete

Olson looks to close out volleyball career with state title

Mark Jones/MDN Our Redeemer’s Christian School’s Morgan Olson goes up for a kill against Des Lacs-Burlington in a District 12 match on Oct. 28. Olson and her ORCS team open the Class B volleyball state tournament this evening against Ray at the Fargodome.

For Our Redeemer’s Christian School senior Morgan Olson, volleyball has always come easy.

And as an all district and all region performer in both her junior and senior seasons, there isn’t much that seems to get Olson rattled.

Olson will close out her high school volleyball career this weekend as she guides the Knights into their third straight state tournament.

ORCS will face the Ray Jays in the state quarterfinals at 6 p.m. this evening at the Fargodome.

And for the Knights, today is the beginning of what they hope will be the celebration of the first state championship in school history.

ORCS has lost in the semifinals of the state volleyball tournament in each of the past two seasons, including a five-game defeat to LaMoure at last year’s tournament at the Minot State Dome.

“It would be so great,” Olson said on what it would be like to capture that elusive first state title. “Last year our boys went to state in basketball and got second. And our girls went to state in 2004, so we’ve come up just short a couple of times. For me personally, it would be like you reap what you sow.”

On the season, Olson has 344 kills and 697 assists, both are team highs. She is also among the school’s career leader in both categories.

In addition, Olson was also an all-state performer last season.

Still, with all the accolades, the ORCS senior keeps a level head about her efforts on the court.

“I try to stay humble,” she said. “And I don’t boast about myself.”

However, her accomplishments haven’t come without effort.

“I really try to put the work in cause it’s really enjoyable to me and it comes easy to me,” she said. “I made a goal (earlier in my life) to get as good as I could be by the time I was a senior.”

And Olson has made an deep impression on those close to the ORCS program that likely won’t be forgotten about anytime soon.

“Morgan since seventh and eighth grade, really sixth grade, has been a strong component and leader for us,” ORCS coach Kara Nunziato said. “She is a humble athlete and is coachable. And she has set a huge example for her peers.”

Olson began playing volleyball in fifth grade, when she became eligible to play on the junior high team. Before that, Olson just attended games at ORCS, hit the ball around the yard with her sisters and was taught by a neighbor at her family’s beach cabin near Bottineau.

“It’s always been fun (playing with her),” said ORCS senior Lauren Hendrickson. “We’ve been together since we were in preschool. And playing in high school for the past five years has been fun. I just hope we can end on a high note.”

Olson, who is undecided about her collegiate plans, offers simple advice to younger players who are looking to get started in the sport.

“Keep working hard,” she said. “Practice makes perfect. Nothing is going to come easy. I’m only 5-feet-8, and blocking doesn’t come easy for me.”

No matter the outcome this weekend, Olson will quickly shift gears to basketball. She is currently the all-time leading scorer in ORCS history, roughly 50 points shy of 2,000 for her career.

She has a goal of hitting the 2,500 point mark before the season ends.

Is she more of a volleyball or basketball athlete?

“I get asked that a lot,” Olson said. “Whichever is in season. Some years, it’s one and other years it’s the other. I don’t think it depends on the success we’ve had, but I really do enjoy both of them.”

The state tournament will run through Saturday, with the championship match set for Saturday evening at 8 p.m.

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

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