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Tom Mix, Published November 20 2013

Fargo Davies back at state volleyball, but not without changes

Fargo - Fargo Davies got its first taste of playing in a state volleyball tournament last year, and this fall, the Eagles are back for more.

Davies (24-8) enters the North Dakota Class A tournament as the East Region’s No. 2 seed and meets West Region, No. 3-seeded Bismarck Century (29-7) at 8 p.m. today in the quarterfinals at the Minot State Dome.

The season began with the Eagles adjusting to new head coach Missy Wilson and the absence of senior Lexi Bolstad, who suffered severe injuries after falling off a GEM car before the season even started.

Davies regrouped and began building a lineup around returning senior all-Eastern Dakota Conference players Katelyn Olson and Kinsey Papachek.

“At the beginning of the year, we talked a lot about being patient and keeping the end in sight,” Wilson said.

The Eagles got out to a 10-1 start and finished second in the regular-season EDC standings. For the first time in program history, Davies advanced to the East Region championship match, but lost 3-1 to Fargo Shanley.

“I feel there has been a steady progression this season,” said Papachek, who has 193 kills this season. “I think we have gotten to know each other more, and the team chemistry has improved. We have been to state once before, and it just seems like everyone on the team wants to go farther.”

Century, the defending Class A champions, defeated Davies 2-1 earlier this season at a kickoff tournament in Bismarck.

“Experience always helps,” Olson said. “Last year was the first time Davies had gone to state as a volleyball program. That was exciting, and I know a lot of the girls on this team are excited to get their first state tournament experience. I know they will handle it well. We want to keep one-upping ourselves and continue to improve.”

Davies spreads out its offense, boasting five players with 100 or more kills. Sophomore middle hitter Natalie Tomhave leads the team in kills with 220 and has 85 blocks.

Olson, who plays setter, has collected 728 assists but also has been a source of offense at the net, posting 109 kills and a team-leading 87 blocks.

“The kids were committed to improving this fall, and I think they were ready for the high expectations,” Wilson said. “Every player on our team has really embraced their role, whether it is the girls starting or the players on the bench serving the team in supporting roles.”

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