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Packers keep eyes on prize

West Fargo had a historical Eastern Dakota Conference volleyball regular season, going 16-0 in the conference. "We believe it was the first in West Fargo history," said Packers head coach Paula Pierson. The feat is one Pierson let her team relish...

West Fargo had a historical Eastern Dakota Conference volleyball regular season, going 16-0 in the conference.

"We believe it was the first in West Fargo history," said Packers head coach Paula Pierson.

The feat is one Pierson let her team relish for about a day after the completion of the regular season. Now, West Fargo is focused on the future.

The Packers (27-5) play No. 8 seed Fargo North (6-24) at 1 p.m. today at the Fargo Civic Center in the first round of the East Region tournament.

"It's a great accomplishment, but that is past and we have to look ahead to (today)," Pierson said. "The regular season is done and gone. Now we have to carry what we did in the regular season into the regional tournament."

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A balanced hitting attack has been one key to the West Fargo success. The Packers have four players with more than 100 kills - junior middle hitter Sarah Denne (253), junior outside hitter Jessie Gust (188), senior outside hitter Jamie Green (174), and junior outside hitter Aryelle Jones (115). Junior outside hitter Blake Selisker is right behind with 97 kills.

"We're confident with all three hitters we have at the net in all of our rotations," Pierson said.

Defending East Region tournament champion Fargo South (27-7) is another top contender. The Bruins lost two conference matches in the regular season, both to West Fargo.

Like West Fargo, the Bruins feature a number of offensive weapons. Senior outside hitter Leslie Olson (243), senior middle hitter Amy Stroup (208), senior right-side hitter Katy Duval (154), sophomore right-side hitter Siri Burck (129), senior outside hitter Natalie Brehmer (125) and senior middle hitter Kate Molbert (101) all have more than 100 kills.

"We have three capable hitters in the front row at all times," South coach Tonah Safranski said.

The Bruins play No. 7 seed Valley City (7-21) at 5 p.m. today in the first round. No. 4 Fargo Shanley (17-12) plays No. 5 Wahpeton (8-21) at 3 p.m. No. 3 Grand Forks Red River (20-9) faces No. 6 Devils Lake (9-20) at 7 p.m.

"I think you have to look at the top four teams as being solid competitive teams," Pierson said. "Any of us can get knocked off if we don't go in focused on the match we have to play."

Grovers in position to make it to state

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Fargo Oak Grove volleyball coach Randy Papachek knows it's wise to take advantage of opportunities like his team has today.

The Grovers play Lisbon at approximately 7:45 p.m. in Enderlin for the Class B, Region 1 title with a berth in the state tournament at stake.

Lisbon is the defending Region 1 champions. Oak Grove (24-70 hasn't advanced to a state tournament since 1999.

Outside hitter Jessica Holaday and middle hitter Helena Shanks, both seniors, lead Oak Grove in kills.

Holaday ranks first on the team with 285, while Shanks is second with 173.

"For some of these girls, this is their last opportunity and for the younger girls it is a great opportunity," Papachek said. "You can't assume anything for next year."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson's prep sports blog can be found at www.areavoices.com Packers keep eyes on prize Heath Hotzler 20071108

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