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TORNADO WARNING: Oakes tops N-G-S for Region 3 volleyball championship

Shayla Novak (4) and Jaida Seyer (18) of Oakes jump for a block and return the ball hit by Hailey Sperle (10) of Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter Thursday during the Region 3 championship volleyball game. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
Abigail Cox (13) and Marisa Garza (15) of Oakes jump to block a ball hit by Markenna Feist (4) of Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter on Thursday during the Region 3 championship volleyball game. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

LAMOURE, N.D.—Oakes High School lived up to its destructive choice in mascot—the Tornadoes—in the championship match of the North Dakota Class B Region 3 volleyball tournament on Thursday.

The Tornadoes thrashed their way past Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter with a 3-0 sweep of the Imperials, punching Oakes' first trip to the Class B volleyball state tournament in 13 years. Oakes rolled to the Region 3 crown: 25-13, 25-19, 25-17.

"It feels amazing. We didn't let up," said Oakes' senior middle blocker Marisa Garza, who tied teammate Nicole Schmitz with a match-high 12 kills. "We knew it was going to be a battle coming in. We knew we had to try our hardest and we didn't let up."

Oakes hit the ground running, rifling off five straight points to start the match with junior outside hitter Jaida Seyer at the service line. A trio of kills by Schmitz early, and four more later on by Garza, helped the Tornadoes push the advantage. Oakes led 23-9 at one point, but back-to-back kills and an ace by N-G-S senior middle blocker Alexa Young helped extend the opening frame.

Oakes has topped 25 wins in three straight seasons, but had lost to LaMoure-Litchville-Marion in the Region 3 tournament semifinals in each of the past two tournaments. L-L-M would eventually roll on to become the only Class B volleyball team to win three consecutive state tournament titles.

Oakes also won the District 6 tournament championship Oct. 29 in Ellendale.

"I'm just so proud of how they played," said Oakes coach Shari Christenson. "They just came out and were fearless and confident, and they've just been playing so well these past two weeks.

"This is a group of girls that just committed to just each other."

A 6-0 run by the Tornadoes in set 2 snapped an 8-all tie and aided the 6-point set victory. Junior libero Claire Wagner scored a pair of aces during the run, as Oakes' serving and attacking kept the Imperials out of system for a majority of the match.

Freshman Abigail Cox connected for a pair of kills down the stretch from the right side for the winners. The frame ended with two more Garza kills and an Emily Cox ace serve for set point.

"They really minimized their errors," said N-G-S first-year coach Courtney Carlson. "We were out of system more than in system, which made a big difference. Their blockers could read our setter and our hitter really, really well."

"But at the end of the day this one game doesn't define our whole season. I'm very proud of our girls."

Oakes was leading 9-8 in the third when a service error and two attacking errors by N-G-S tipped the tide and contributed to four straight points for the Tornados, as Oakes finished off the sweep.

"We had a definite game plan. One thing we realized about halfway through the season with this group is they can't be too serious or we play tight," Christensen said. "So before every game they're in (the locker room) dancing, laughing and playing games."

Oakes last qualified for the state tournament in 2005 as the champions of Region 1. The Tornadoes placed seventh at state that season, topping Flasher 3-1 at the Minot State University Dome.

The state tournament is back in Minot starting Nov. 15. The Class B state tournament bracket will be released Friday, Nov. 9.

"It's going to be intense ... and then it's going to sink in," Garza said.

Oakes has also made previous state tournament appearances in 1997 and 2000, but has never advanced to the state championship match.

"We're one of the toughest regions in the state," Christensen said. "We can matchup against anybody and we'll step inside those lines and see what happens."

Region 3 Volleyball Tournament

Championship

Oakes 3, Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter 0

Oakes 25 25 25

NGS 13 19 17

Oakes—Kills: Marisa Garza 12, Nicole Schmitz 12, Shayla Novak 4, Abby Cox 3. Assists: Sadie Hansen 36. Aces: Claire Wagner 2, Jaida Seyer, Emily Cox, Schmitz, Garza.

NGS—Kills: Alexa Young 10, Ashley Schmitt 4, Kassie Breidenbach 3, Markenna Feist, Megan Regner. Assists: Regner 18, Veronica Schwartzenberger. Aces: Regner, Breidenbach, Young. Blocks: Breidenbach, Young, Hailey Sperle. Digs: Schwartzenberger 29, Young 29, Schmitt 19, Regner 14, Breidenbach 11, Sperle 7, Feist.

Records: Oakes 31-7. NGS 26-8.

Third place

Carrington 3, Linton-HMB 0

Carr. 25 25 25

L-HMB 19 23 19

Carr.—Kills: Bella Hone 11, Kadyn Mehring 11, Marah Schmitz 8, Hannah Hagel 5, McKenzie Johnson 4, Addison Hoornaert 2, Larissa Larson. Assists: Hoornaert 33, Schmitz 2. Aces: Schmitz 3, Larson, Hoornaert, Sadie Magnuson. Blocks: Hagel 3, Schmitz 2, Mehring, Johnson. Digs: Mehring 9, Johnson 8, Larson 7, Hoornaert 5, Schmitz 3, Hone.

L-HMB—Kills: Teegan Scherr 8, Sadie Bosch 7, Destiny Wenger 5, Jaycee Richter 2, Callie Hase 2, Taiya Schmidt 2, Bailey Hulm. Assists: Hulm 22, Hase, Scherr. Aces: Scherr 4, Hulm 2, Richter, Emily Kelsch. Blocks: Wenger 3, Schmidt 2, Bosch. Digs: Richter 17, Scherr 8, Hase 7, Kelsch 7, Hulm 3, Kylee Gartner 3, Bosch, Haley Hase.

Records: Carrington 30-9. L-HMB 28-13.

Awards

Region 3 senior player of year: Katie Entzi, EKM.

Region 3 coach of year: Jamie Richter, Linton-HMB.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

(701) 952-8461
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