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Published November 13 2010

ND East Region volleyball: Red River sweeps Deacons for title

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Grand Forks Red River volleyball team will begin its quest for back-to-back Class A titles as a No. 1 seed.

Emily Asche and Hadley Steffen combined for 28 kills to lead the Roughriders to a 25-14, 25-22, 25-22 victory against Fargo Shanley in the Eastern Dakota Conference championship game Saturday at Red River High School.

“We wanted the best seed going into state and we got that tonight,” said Asche, who finished with 15 kills. “So we’re pretty happy.”

The Roughriders, who also earned the EDC regular-season crown by tie-breaker criteria over Shanley, came out blistering the ball to open the match.

Asche, Steffen, Annika Strand and Katie Ronkowski all contributed early as Red River took the 1-0 advantage.

The Roughriders’ block proved too much for the second-straight match.

A day after limiting standout Fargo North sophomore Kira Larson to six kills, Red River kept EDC Outstanding Senior Hillary Rotunda from getting into a groove.

Rotunda was effective, however, finishing with 12 kills and two blocks.

But it wasn’t enough to rattle the Roughriders.

“Asche and Steffen played really well on the outside and I thought their middles really sold the block,” Shanley coach Wendy Zeiher said. “Our blocks got fooled a little bit so the outsides were one-on-one. But I thought we played well. We were just excited to be here. Hopefully, we will take them at state.”

The Deacons, who had never reached the conference title match in Zeiher’s 11 years as coach, managed to scrap their way to leads in the second and third sets.

Asche helped turn the momentum around with strong finishes each time.

The Roughriders will face the No. 4 seed from the West Region at noon on Thursday in the first round of the state tournament at the Minot State Dome in Minot. Shanley is scheduled to play the No. 3 seed from the West at

8 p.m.

“Its’ our chemistry together,” Asche said. “Just the basic fundamentals, blocking and defense. We just put that all together and we became a better team.”

RED RIVER (kills-blocks-aces): E. Asche 15-1-0, Steffen 13-0-0, Strand 7-0-0, Christian 0-0-0 (28 assists, 7 digs), H. Asche 0-0-4, Robinson 0-0-3, Fetsch 0-0-0 (7 digs), Ronkowski 1-1-0.

SHANLEY: Kanwischer 1-0-0 (5 digs), Sinner 2-0-0, Rotunda 12-2-0 (5 digs), Weir 4-0-2, Sandy 4-0-0, Carlson 5-0-0 (5 digs), Vetter 0-0-0 (24 assists).

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com