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Published November 17 2010

ND state volleyball: Larson can carry her team, but she enjoys watching teammates tally kills

Kira Larson is a game-changing presence on the volleyball court.

Look no further than the Fargo North sophomore’s school-record 31 kills against defending North Dakota Class A champion Grand Forks Red River during the regular season for proof.

There likely wasn’t a more dominant performance at the net in the state this season.

However, Larson has a surprising take on the thrill of the kill.

“For me, I like watching my teammates get kills,” said Larson, an athletic 6-foot-3 middle hitter who earned a state high jump title as an eighth-grader. “I get more excited seeing my teammates get kills. When you are hitting you don’t really get to see where it goes, or how hard it gets there. When you see your teammates slam one down, it’s like the best feeling ever.”

North (25-11) is scheduled to face Bismarck (32-4) at 6 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the North Dakota Class A state tournament at the Minot State Dome.

If the Spartans are going to advance deep into the postseason, they’ll need Larson to be on top of her game. And they’ll need setters Keli Johnson and Danielle Brewer to be spot on in feeding North’s hitters the ball.

That perfect combination has been on display several times this year.

The Spartans won 11 of their final 12 matches to end the regular season.

Johnson – also one of North’s top outside hitters – Mia Lopez, Maren McGurran and a strong back row all contributed to the cause down the stretch.

And Larson was often the focal point.

“Anytime that a kid can get up and attack the ball that aggressively, it totally affects the momentum of your team,” North coach Melissa Wilson said. “If you can get a couple good hits like that in a row it elevates our level of play. Kira is a flashy player.”

Larson opened the year with a back injury. She spent about a week out of the lineup and needed a few days to get back into the rhythm of the offense.

Once healthy, Larson developed enough chemistry with North’s setters to become a dominant force on a regular basis.

When working right, the Spartans’ work with machine-like precision.

The pass, the set, the kill all come together to create a spectacular show, ending in the resounding thud of a volleyball hitting hardwood.

It’s the sound Larson and Spartans hope to hear over-and-over again at state.

“We’ve been playing quality games, playing against the top teams,” said Larson, whose team earned the No. 4 seed from the EDC. “Going into the state tournament it’s looking really positive. I’m really excited to see how well we’re going to do.”

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

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