FARGO — West Fargo High School has been calm under pressure this season, and the opening round of the Class A state volleyball tournament was no exception. Being the top seed always comes with expectations. The Packers, the No. 1 seed from the East, lived up to that status Thursday.
The Packers came back after a first-set loss to win the next three (25-15, 25-20, 26-24) over Bismarck Legacy and clinch their spot in the semis. West Fargo (27-2), which missed the state tournament a year ago, will play No. 2 West seed Jamestown in Friday’s semifinals at 7 p.m. at the Fargodome. Legacy (11-9) will face No. 3 East seed West Fargo Sheyenne in the consolation semis at 1 p.m. Friday.
“It feels good to get the first one out of the way,” said Halle Erickson, who posted a triple-double for the Packers on Thursday. “Playing in a new area and a team that we’ve never seen before, it feels good to get this one done.”
The Packers held a 2-point lead (18-16) in the back-and-forth first set, but didn’t hold the advantage for long. The Sabers went on an 8-2 run that brought them to set point. Breena Sand sealed the 25-21 opening set for Legacy. Sand had a team-high 25 kills in the match.
“After a slower first set and then two really good second and third sets, we knew we had to keep our energy going on the fourth one and keep playing like we could,” Erickson said.
The Packers quickly shook off any opening-round rust. Tied at 10 in the second frame, West Fargo broke away. The Packers rode long runs to the finish line and won the frame on an Erickson ace.
Three Packers recorded 20 or more digs. Maddie Waldera had a team-high 33 digs. Erin Binstock followed with 27. Erickson tallied 22 digs, 23 kills, 12 assists and two aces.
Fellow senior Madison McKinnon was everywhere on the floor in the third set. A McKinnon block and tip gave West Fargo an early 6-point lead that wouldn't be surrendered.
Legacy trailed by six (23-17) late in the fourth set and rallied to stay alive through multiple set points, but the Packers held on to clinch it.
Binstock and Erickson, who are cousins, got to play in front of Binstock’s brother, Cody, for the first time this season Thursday, when it mattered most. Cody has been at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., since mid-July rehabbing injuries he sustained in a diving accident this summer. He drove through the night with Binstock’s mom to make it to the state tournament.
“It was great to look over and see him cheering for us,” Erickson said about her first cousin. “So good to have his face back in the gym.”