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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 19 2013

Deacons delighted with top seed for ND state volleyball

Fargo - It took several tries in recent seasons, but the Fargo Shanley volleyball team is entering the North Dakota state tournament as a No. 1 seed.

The Deacons earned the top seed with a 3-1 win over Fargo Davies on Saturday in the East Region championship match. Shanley plays Bismarck – the West Region’s No. 4 seed – in the Class A quarterfinals at noon Thursday at the Minot State Dome.

Shanley had been the East Region’s No. 2 seed the previous three seasons following three straight losses to Grand Forks Red River.

After posting a 26-2 record in the regular season, the Deacons (29-2) saw an opportunity to get over the hump and took it.

“We have three goals, which was how we wanted to set our season up,” Shanley head coach Curt Johnson said. “The first one was to win the regular-season title and the second one was to be the No. 1 seed and win that East Region tournament. The third, obviously, would be to win state.

“We didn’t want to slip,” Johnson added. “We wanted to prove that we were the legitimate number one team.”

Johnson said the Deacons’ success this fall has started with its defense. Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Jacobson leads the team with 399 digs and junior middle blocker Alivia Fraase is second with 395.

Fraase leads Shanley in kills (433) and blocks (71). Junior middle blocker Somer Bucholz has posted 253 kills.

Senior Madeline Stark has 44 of the team’s 195 ace serves.

Senior Hannah Krauter and junior Lauren Sandy split setting duties. Both have exceeded 400 assists this fall.

The balanced play makes the Deacons a threat even if they fall behind in a set or even a match.

Shanley is 6-2 this season in matches that it dropped the first set, including Saturday’s win against the Eagles.

“There is something to be said about how our team handles being down,” Sandy said. “We know we have the athleticism and chemistry to pull back into any match.”

Shanley has lost a total of 14 sets this season and are 3-0 in five-set matches.

“When we do lose a set, the girls have done a good job of forgetting about it,” Johnson said. “They listen well to what corrections we need to make. They don’t get too rattled when we are behind.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562