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Tom Mix, Published November 19 2013

13-win improvement has Bruins back at state

Fargo - Victories aren’t the only way to measure improvement season to season, but in the case of the Fargo South volleyball team, the increase in the win column has been noticeable.

The Bruins have gone from a 7-24 team a year ago to a

20-13 squad this fall, preparing for their first trip to the Class A state tournament since 2010.

South opens the tournament against West Region No. 1-seeded Bismarck St. Mary’s at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Minot State Dome.

The Bruins opened the season with a new head coach – Andrea Hummel –who said the beginning of the year was all about getting the team in an order that would favor South.

“We had to rearrange a few things, and we had to bring up some girls that really hadn’t played at the varsity level before,” Hummel said. “We figured out where we could minimize our weaknesses and get our strengths to shine plus at the same time work as one unit.”

There was a nucleus of returning talent in seniors Kaitlyn Anderson and Madi McConn, along with sophomore Emily Stroup.

“We had a lot of great leadership from the girls that were on the varsity team last year,” Hummel said. “They made that commitment and got other players on board with them.”

A number of players said they have responded positively to Hummel’s coaching.

“She pushes us a lot in practice and is a really good coach,” said Stroup, who leads the Bruins in kills with 460. “Everything has improved from a year ago and I think all around we are a much better team.”

“Our practices have been a lot more productive this year and our team chemistry has improved,” added sophomore outside hitter Maddie Erickson, who has collected 128 kills this fall.

Erickson and Stroup where named to the All-Eastern Dakota Conference team and helped the Bruins defeat West Fargo 3-1 in a state-qualifying match last Saturday at the East Region tournament.

“We are playing well,” Hummel said. “Being able to get that tough win against West Fargo in the close fourth set is a great way to head into the state tournament. It is good to see the team is mentally tough and has the ability to get the job taken care of when a match is on the line.”

McConn leads the Bruins in blocks with 33 and also has posted 132 kills.

Anderson has set up the Bruins’ potent front-row attack with 472 assists this season.

South also has received plenty points from the service line featuring six players with 20 or more aces.

The Bruins did not play the Saints this season, but St. Mary’s spent most of the season third in the Western Dakota Association standings before upsetting Jamestown in the West Region championship.

“We feel pretty good about that matchup,” Hummel said. “For us we need to play with energy and be able to play our game. We’ll need to come out and play our game right away.”

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