The volleyball nets are up in gyms across the state of North Dakota and the 2014 season should be one full of intrigue leading up to the postseason.
Tonight, I’ll be at Fargo South High School covering the Fargo South-Fargo North matchup, which kicks off a full slate of matches in the Eastern Dakota Conference.
The South-North matchup is a meeting of two teams that bring back young talent from a year ago. The two teams split their regular season meetings with the Spartans winning a 3-2 match in the first meeting and the Bruins picking up a 3-1 decision in the other regular season match.
The Bruins (4-2) return junior all-state first team setter/right side Emily Stroup, junior all-conference outside hitter Maddie Erickson and senior middle blocker Anna Lawley. That trio will be expected to lead the Bruins this fall and help the team return to the state tournament.
The Spartans (4-2) bring back nine players that either started or saw a large amount of varsity rotations last fall.
Other matches across the Eastern Dakota Conference are:
1. Grand Forks Red River at East Grand Forks (Minn.)
2. Fargo Davies at Valley City, 7 p.m.
3. Devils Lake at Grand Forks Central, 7 p.m.
4. Wahpeton at West Fargo, 7 p.m.
5. West Fargo Sheyenne at Fargo Shanley, 7 p.m.
Fargo Shanley figures to be the favorites in the EDC after winning the East Region championship last year. The Deacons lost very little to graduation and most of its varsity lineup returns to the court including North Dakota commit Alivia Fraase.
Fraase, an all-state first team senior middle hitter, is a threat up front, but also plays standout defense for the Deacons. All-state second teamer senior middle hitter Somer Bucholz returns to the court as well as all-conference senior right side Lauren Sandy.
The Deacons 6-1 at the East-West Crossover tournament in Bismarck over the weekend losing to Bismarck Century … A few people may be penciling in that matchup at state tournament in Minot two months from now.
Davies lost a pair of all-state players in Katelyn Olson and Kinsey Papachek and head coach Missy Wilson said her team will need to fill those voids in regards to the lineup and leadership.
The city of West Fargo now has two prep teams with West Fargo Sheyenne joining the fold. Sheyenne was 5-1 at the East-West Crossover tournament and West Fargo was 2-4.