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Glenn Pursley, Published June 16 2013

Pair on opposite sides of Optimists volleyball series to play for NDSU

FARGO - The North Dakota Optimists East-West All-Star volleyball series is upon us and it features the top graduated seniors the state has to offer.

But apart from the plethora of talent on each team, the squads have something else in common: athletes headed to North Dakota State University.

Grand Forks Red River’s Hadley Steffen and Ali Moody of Dickinson have committed to play volleyball at NDSU.

Starting tonight at 7 p.m. at Fargo Davies High School, Steffen and Moody will play against each other in one last series before coming together as teammates this fall. Steffen is on the East team and Moody plays for the West.

“It’ll be fun,” Steffen said. “It’s a rivalry, but it’s a fun one. It’s nice meeting the new girls. Playing in a new environment is fun because you don’t usually get that.”

Steffen received a full ride to NDSU and plans to study exercise science.

Steffen, a three-year varsity starter, helped the Roughriders to four state tournament appearances. Last season she tallied 498 kills, 404 digs and 52 service aces to pave the way to a second-place finish at state.

They lost the championship to Bismarck Century 18-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-18.

Steffen is the current kills leader for Red River with 1,288. She earned all-conference and all-state honors three years in a row and was the North Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011.

“Ever since I started playing volleyball, my goal was to play in college,” Steffen said. “I worked hard every day, practiced my hardest and I finally reached my goal.”

Moody wasn’t sure where she wanted go after high school up until last year. After taking some time to think about it and visit with Bison head coach Kari Thompson, she made the walk-on commitment.

“I just went to a few camps and talked to the coach,” Moody said. “I was brought up playing volleyball. I’ve never thought of not playing volleyball in college.

Moody, a three-year letter winner for the Midgets, has experience all over the floor. She’s played outside hitter and setter as well as being the primary passer on serve reception.

She helped the Midgets to a third-place finish at last year’s state tournament with a 3-sets-to-1 win over West Fargo.

Playing on the same team isn’t something new for the pair. Both Moody and Steffen played for the same club team during the summer.

“I trust her,” Moody said of Steffen. “She’s my go-to hitter.”

Excitement for the upcoming season is just one more thing the two have in common.

“I’m really excited to experience a different coach and see how much I can improve and bond with the team,” Steffen said.

“I’m most excited for the people,” Moody added. “I like meeting new people and teammates. But I’m excited to play at a higher level and to be challenged. I want to get better.”

After tonight’s match, both teams will head to Bismarck for the second match of the series. The teams have split victories the past two years.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Glenn Pursley at (701) 241-5549