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Breakthrough achievement for Carrington: Cardinals ready for first trip to state

Carrington seniors, from left, Madison Wendel, Jade Anderson, Jacey Engelhorn and Kayla Hochhalter hold their Region 4 championship trophy. The Cardinals earned their first ever trip to the state tournament. Photo courtesy Sharon Boehmer

State tournament appearances are not uncommon in most sports in Carrington.

Volleyball, however, had yet to break through.

It had been tantalizingly close the last three years, advancing to the region championship match each season, only to fall one win short.

So last Thursday, the Cardinals made it four years in a row, but this time they finished it off, beating Lakota-Edmore for the program’s first trip ever to state. They were expected to contend, but finally breaking through was far from assured.

“Well, you get that close so many times, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. It was definitely a vision all year the girls had, but we know how hard it is to get there having come close all those times,” coach Sharon Boehmer said. “I was so happy for our kids. They’ve put the work in. It was a huge deal to finally make it happen.”

The Cardinals carry a 29-7 record to Minot and play the final first-round game Thursday night against Beulah. Not only did they qualify for state, they were also seeded fourth as the Class B tournament went to seeding the top four teams for the first time.

“When we heard our name come up, that was kind of a big moment knowing that you couldn’t vote for yourself,” Boehmer said. “It shows the respect people have for our program and that was great to see.”

The breakthrough was particularly meaningful for the team’s four seniors.

Madison Wendel has started since her freshman season and had been through all the near-misses. Kayla Hochhalter was a key cog in the last three, while Jacey Engelhorn and Jade Anderson have been key contributors for multiple years.

“Our senior class really is a special group. The cohesiveness we have, and the leadership and direction they provide has been a big reason for our success,” Boehmer said.

They provide a lot more than just intangibles, though.

“All four of them hit well, they jump well and hit hard,” Boehmer said. “And they know the game. They see the game differently out there. They have a great understanding of how to play and what it takes to be successful.”

Wendel has had another monster season with 388 kills, 173 digs, 103 blocks and 72 aces. Hochhalter has pounded down 321 kills and leads in digs (256). Engelhorn has 232 kills and 71 aces, and Anderson 126 digs, 128 kills and 40 aces.

Boehmer also singled out the play of 5-foot-1 junior setter Brooke Rosenau, who has passed out 879 assists.

“She’s done an amazing job in my opinion of taking over a leadership role and running our offense,” Boehmer said. “We knew at the end of last season she was ready and she’s proved it.”

Despite being a state tournament newcomer, they expect to be in the mix this weekend.

“It’s not just enough to go. We want to have a good tournament and be very competitive,” Boehmer said. “The girls will be ready and excited to do well.”

Carrington stat leaders

Aces: Kayla Hochhalter 82, Madison Wendel 72, Jacey Engelhorn 71, Page Anderson 40, Savanna Buskness 37, Brooke Rosenau 35, Taylor Kutz 31.

Assists: Rosenau 879.

Kills: Wendel 388, Hochhalter 321, Engelhorn 232, Anderson 128.

Digs: Hochhalter 256, Engelhorn 203, Wendel 174, Anderson 136, Buskness 101, Rosenau 95, Kutz 77, Brenna Skytland 75.

Blocks: Wendel 103, Anderson 27, Hochhalter 23, Claire Endres 20.

Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701)               952-8460 or by e-mail at

Dave Selvig
Selvig has been a sports writer at The Sun since 1999 and sports editor since 2009.
(701) 952-8460