« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Chris Murphy, Published October 22 2012

Fergus Falls volleyball team using height to their advantage

Fergus Falls, Minn. - There may be no other high school volleyball team in Minnesota sacrificing as much as the one playing in Fergus Falls.

Because of their height, the 23-5 Otters have given up one of the most important aspects of a high school girl’s life: blue jeans.

“You can never find jeans,” Fergus Falls middle hitter Anna Monke said when asked what was the worst part about being 5 feet, 11 inches tall. “I don’t know what it is. I love milk if that helps. It’s a gift and we’re glad to use it.

“We’ve grown into our playing and our identity as a team and it’s starting to show.”

The Fergus Fall squad really doesn’t have much room to literally grow, as the Otters currently sport five players that are 5-10 or taller to go along with two girls measuring 5-9 and two coming in at 5-8.

The Otters have shown growth of late on the court, however. After a three-match losing streak brought their record to 4-3 on the season, the Otters ended the regular season winning 19 of 21 matches to show they are force to be reckoned with in the state.

It’s hard to imagine the Otters lost height from last season.

“Last year, we graduated a

6-foot-2 girl and we thought that would hurt us, but the girls have stepped in and we’re going for it,” said 5-10 setter Brianna Rasmusson.

Fergus Falls welcomes teams to try to push a kill through an Otter wall. Good luck finding a hole.

At any time during a match, there is a chance an opponent will be staring down 5-10 Rasmusson, 5-10 Morgan Hensch, 5-11 Monke, 5-11 Kristin Traiser and 6-1 Hanna Swenson on the other side of the net. Pick your poison and be aware that the Otters can sense fear.

“We sense if a team is intimidated,” Swenson said. “They get that worried look on their face when they’re going up. Teams like to tip over us, but it’s pretty hard to get around us.”

The Fergus Falls five make up five of the top six spots on the team in kills with Hensch at 214, Rasmusson at 180, Monke at 157, Traiser at 63 and Swenson at 56 on the season.

The numbers are even more impressive with blocking: Hensch has 10 solo blocks and 33 block assists, Rasmusson has 23 solo blocks and 63 block assists, Monke has stopped 32 blocks on her own and 76 assisted, Traiser has racked up four solo blocks and 45 block assists and Swenson has swatted five solo blocks to go along with 51 block assists.

If that doesn’t scare a team, Fergus Falls has other options.

“You should see us line up for the powder puff football game,” Hensch said. “The height helps because other teams aren’t going to try anything cute with us and we’re used to playing hard volleyball.”

Fergus Falls coach Renee Erickson has denied any reports of her having a garden where she grows volleyball players.

“I can’t explain what was in the water way back when, but, whatever it was, I’ll see if we can remedy it and bring it back again,” Erickson said. “The nice thing is they are athletic. They aren’t just tall trees standing on the floor. They bring a lot to the court.”

Besides finding jeans, another difficulty for the girls is taking orders from the shortest person on the roster. Erickson claims to be 5-2 when stretched out.

“She never tells us how to block because she’s never blocked anything before,” Swenson said. “She’s a great coach though.”

Erickson makes it pretty easy for the girls to take orders from her without having to strain their necks looking down.

“I might be short in stature, but I carry a big stick, which is my voice,” Erickson said. “I don’t have to use it too often with this group. We have a very cohesive group of kids.”

One thing is for sure: The Otters like the view from where they’re at right now.

“My height makes me feel like I’m above everybody on the court,” Traiser said. “They may jump higher than me, but I still feel like I’m way up there above everybody else.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548