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Published October 29 2010

High school volleyball: Deacons finally best Spartans in 5 sets

School work took a backseat this week for the Fargo Shanley volleyball team.

The focus had to be on stopping the streak.

Hillary Rotunda finished with 22 kills and two blocks to help Shanley snap a three-match losing skid against Fargo North with a 27-25, 25-15, 14-25, 24-26, 15-8 win on Thursday.

“It was so important,” said Rotunda, whose team’s season was ended by North a year ago in a state play-in match. “Everyone was just ready. It was all we thought about. School wasn’t even on our minds. I think North is more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge, and that was a really big deal.”

The Deacons, who were swept by North twice this year, were firing on all cylinders to open the match.

Shanley blistered through the first two sets with enthusiasm and emotion, taking a 2-0 lead with solid defense and the powerful play at the net.

North, which looked out of sync in the first two sets, came alive in the third.

Kira Larson, Keli Johnson and Mia Lopez led the way, finding holes in the Shanley defense time-after-time until the match was tied at 2-2.

“From here on out we are going to play good teams,” North coach Melissa Wilson said. “That’s the bottom line. And if you don’t show up to play the entire night, it’s going to be tough to walk away with a win.”

The Deacons closed out the match with four-unanswered points in the fifth set.

Kaitlyn Carlson finished with 14 kills for Shanley.

Larson had 16 kills, nine blocks and four ace serves. Johnson had 13 kills, three blocks and four aces.

“The conference is so tight,” Rotunda said. “Playing well at the end of the year will determine what seed we are and who we play in the (Eastern Dakota Conference) tournament. And that could determine whether or not we go to state.”

NORTH (kills-blocks-aces): Daly 1-0-0, Marty 0-0-0 (30 digs), Rindy 2-3-0, K. Johnson 13-3-4, Larson 16-9-4, McGurran 11-4-0, Lopez 7-4-0, Brewer 0-0-0 (24 assists), Preston 0-0-0, Thorstensen 1-0-0, C. Johnson 0-1-0.

SHANLEY: Kanwischer 3-0-0, Sinner 2-0-0, Rotunda 22-2-0, Weir 9-1-0, Sandy 5-0-1 (19 digs), Vetter 1-1-2 (48 assists), Carlson 14-0-3.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com