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ND Class A volleyball: Defending champ 'Riders sweep Minot

MINOT, N.D. - The pressure is on for the Grand Forks Red River High School volleyball team. So far, it hasn't been a problem. Sophomore Hadley Steffen had 14 kills to lead the defending champion Roughriders to a 25-18, 25-21, 25-23 victory agains...

MINOT, N.D. - The pressure is on for the Grand Forks Red River High School volleyball team. So far, it hasn't been a problem.

Sophomore Hadley Steffen had 14 kills to lead the defending champion Roughriders to a 25-18, 25-21, 25-23 victory against Minot during Thursday's first round of the North Dakota Class A state tournament at the Minot State Dome.

"We've got some pressure, but we can deal with it," Steffen said. "It just makes us work harder."

Red River set the tone by racing to an 11-5 lead in the first set. Minot appeared to be a step slow defending the Roughriders' attack.

Steffen, senior standout Emily Asche and Annika Strand each played a role in keeping the Majettes on their heels throughout the match.

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"Looking at their rotations, there is no secret to what (Roughriders coach) Carolyn (Olson) does," Minot coach Patricia Luetzen-Schwarz said. "They play good old-fashioned, thick volleyball. I mean she's got good hitters, everybody that plays defense for her is in a position ready to play the ball. That is where we were lacking."

Steffen and Strand helped carry Red River in the second set with solid play down the stretch. The Roughriders withstood a late rally by the Majettes in the third set to secure the sweep.

Asche finished with 13 kills. Strand had 9 kills. Holly Johnson led Minot with nine kills.

Red River, which defeated Bismarck Century 3-1 in last year's final, will face Fargo South at 6 p.m. today in the semifinals.

RED RIVER (kills-blocks-aces): Gruhot 0-0-0, Ronkowski 1-0-1, E. Asche 13-1-0, Bollingberg 6-2-0, Christian 0-0-3 (32 assists), H. Asche 0-0-1, Steffen 14-0-0, Strand 9-1-1, Bommersbach 0-1-0, Fetsch 0-0-0 (12 digs), Robinson 0-0-2.

MINOT: Milbrath 2-0-0, Bolinske 3-5-0, Larson 1-0-1 (22 assists), Vander Vorste 0-0-0 (17 digs), Bengson 0-0-2, Vetter 5-2-1, Johnson 9-0-2, Eggert 6-1-0.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562. Hotzler's blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com

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