"With my best friend": Northern Cass volleyball champion teammates Aasen, Erickson take next steps together

Best friends Noelle Erickson and Jocelyn Aasen from Northern Cass recently signed together to remain teammates, study at Mayville State.

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Northern Cass' Jocelyn Aasen (left) and Noelle Erickson (right) smile together following their recent signing to Mayville State to play volleyball together.
Bryce Laxdal | Northern Cass Activities Director

HUNTER — Since their first meeting in sixth grade, the Northern Cass duo of Jocelyn Aasen and Noelle Erickson have become best friends, state volleyball champions and, next year, volleyball teammates at Mayville State.

And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’ve been friends for a long time but since our sophomore year we’ve gotten really close,” Aasen said. “I remember two summers ago I stayed at her house for a week straight. I was never home. I just lived at her house for a week.”

In addition to summer weeks spent together, the pair’s friendship has grown through volleyball, and other sports, at Northern Cass noted Erickson.

“I would say as we got older and started playing sports together more (we became even closer),” Erickson said. “We played basketball, volleyball, and I managed track and she ran track. We were always together a lot and people said I was like her personal manager for track. It was pretty funny. But, in the past few years, we’ve definitely grown in our friendship.”


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Northern Cass' Jocelyn Aasen leaps for a shot against Minot Our Reedemer's during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class B state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Throughout the past several months, Aasen and Erickson conducted a joint search for the right college for them. Aside from both wishing to continue their athletic careers, they both hoped to follow the same academic path.

“We kind of both wanted to go for the same thing,” Aasen said. “We are both going for elementary education. So, we had it narrowed down to Mayville and Valley City because they both have some of the best education programs in the state. We both looked at VCSU but Noelle checked out Mayville first and she was like, ‘you need to go check out Mayville.’”

For Erickson, a tour of the Mayville campus was a turning point in the decision.

“I talked to Mayville’s coach about playing during a tour and I really liked the vibe because some of the players gave me a tour and it was really good,” Erickson said. “I liked the small town atmosphere and how it felt like home. I was like, ‘Jocelyn, you need to check this out. I think you’ll really like it.’ ”

Northern Cass' Noelle Erickson makes a reverse return against Kenmare during the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

In a more recent visit to Mayville, Aasen and Erickson were given the chance to work out with their future Comets teammates. The opportunity provided both a sense of security as well as the familiar tight-knit feel the pair are used to at Northern Cass.

“It was reassurance for us that we would fit in with the culture and that’s a big thing,” Aasen said. “Especially going from high school to college, you never know how intense it’s going to be or how the people are going to be. But, they were all welcoming and it was just really fun.”

Erickson agreed.

“They have a really good family-like culture and everyone gets along and you don’t want to mess that up,” Erickson said. “You don’t want to be the odd man out. So, it’s nice to feel welcomed and know we do fit in.”


In November, the Jaguars defeated Linton to earn their first state title in volleyball since 2013. The victory left Aasen and Erickson proud of their team's accomplishments but also wanting more.

“After volleyball season, it felt like I wasn’t done. It felt like there was unfinished business even though we won state,” Aasen said. “That’s how I knew I wanted to keep playing.”

Northern Cass team members celebrate their win over Linton-HMB in the North Dakota Class B state volleyball tournament championship game at the Bismarck Events Center on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Erickson had similar thoughts.

“It was really awesome (to win the state championship). A lot of our team was built off of our juniors and returning seniors, so to finish it off together was really cool. Leaving on that high note, it was like ‘it’s over.’ ” Erickson said. “Then getting the chance to play and continue at college was surreal and made me realize I still wanted to play.”

Northern Cass volleyball coach Angie Johnson said seeing the pair continue their academic and athletic careers together is “awesome.”

“They’ve been so close forever,” Johnson said. “Ever since elementary school, they’ve played together. I think it’s super cool to not only have them play at college but also continue to build that relationship.”

Aasen and Erickson, along with their fellow seniors, were Johnson’s first freshman group when she became the Jaguars coach.

As they wind down their time at Northern Cass and with their future plans set, the best friends — who plan on becoming roommates in the fall — wouldn't want things to be any different.


“It’s so awesome coach (Lindsey) Johnson offered us both the opportunity to continue our volleyball careers (at Mayville),” Erickson said. “It’s just really great that I have Jocelyn with me because I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.”

Aasen added, simply, “I am just so grateful for the opportunity to continue my athletic career with my best friend by my side.”

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