Carrington claims District 5 volleyball championship
Carrington head volleyball coach Megan Trautman doesn't have much experience with previous district tournament setups, but this year's structure worked out well for the Cardinals.
Carrington faced Oakes in the District 5 tournament championship game Monday night in Oakes and managed to battle back for the win after dropping the first two sets 25-8 and 25-14.
"I'm so happy for the athletes and grateful that we have the opportunity to play in post-season tournaments," Trautman said. "Getting a bit familiar with the setup of these post-season tournaments will definitely be beneficial moving forward."
Carrington hosted and bested Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier and LaMoure/Litchville-Marion in the first two rounds before heading to Oakes for the title match.
"They communicated, had fun, celebrated all the good things and didn’t let the bad things or mistakes affect them in any way," Trautman said. "Our biggest strength in the championship game was definitely the ability to never back down. The girls showed true grit, joy and determination to make things start going their way."
Carrington faced and lost to Oakes in three on Oct. 13. At the time, the Cardinals were operating without four starters. Trautman said the players who came off the bench put forth a good effort during the regular season contest but having the whole team back was a big energy boost in the District 5 championship.
"It was a complete squad effort, every single player was crucial to our victory," Trautman said. "I must tip my hat to the hustle and heart the girls on the court showed and the energy and joy that poured out from the girls on the bench."
Three of those girls -- Hannah Hagel, Sydnie Grager and Lexus Page -- were named to the District 5 all-tournament team. Grager and Hagel commanded the net, sending a combined 35 balls sailing past the Tornadoes' defense. Page, a senior outside, also cracked into double digits at the net with 10 kills.
Hagel and Page were also busy patrolling the back half of the court. The duo tallied a staggering 68 digs.
"The girls knew they had to be aggressive and stay focused to dig their way out of the hole," Trautman said. "They did just that and never let the energy or joy slow down."
Not slowing down will be the Cardinals' focus headed into the Region 3 tournament, where Trautman said they will face some very athletic and well-coached teams.
"We need to work on our energy level right out of the gate," Trautman said. "We have the ability to gain energy and momentum, but have to do it sooner in order to avoid digging ourselves a hole to climb out of."
Carrington, Oakes, LaMoure/Litchville-Marion and Ellendale are the four District 5 teams that have advanced to the Region 3 tournament. The Cardinals have yet to face any teams from neighboring District 6 to this point.
"Our goal is to focus on what is in our control and to really rely on one another," Trautman said of the game plan for the regional tournament. "Good things happen when we trust ourselves and our teammates."
Oakes has faced No. 1 seeded Linton (18-0), South Border (10-7) and Medina/Pingree-Buchanan (8-7). First-year head coach Katelyn Hagen said that after the tough loss to Carrington, the Tornadoes are ready to make some noise in the region.
"Even with the loss last night, ultimately our girls know how to rally back," Hagen said. "They are not satisfied. They are definitely hungry to go out there and get some regional wins and make it to that championship match.
"We are playing some of our best ball now late in the season and that's what you want going into postseason."
Carrington 3, Oakes 2
CAR 8 14 25 25 15
OAK 25 25 22 22 12
CAR -- Kills: Grager 18, Hagel 17, Page 10. Assists: Tessa Page 38, Taryn Hoeckle 3. Digs: Hagel 35, Page 33, Bre Mittleider 30.
OAK -- Kills: Sadie Hansen 20, Emma Muggli 17, Laikyn Roney 10, Abby Cox 2, Grace Day 1, Sam Meehl 1. Assists: Hansen 22, Cox 21. Digs: Hansen 20, Roney 18, Aspen Hill 16, Day 15, Cox 12, Brynn Dethlefsen 9, Lily Thorpe 5, Meehl 3, Muggli 2. Aces: Hansen 5, Cox 4, Day 1, Dethlefsen 1, Hill 1. Blocks: Cox 5, Meehl 2, Muggli 2, Thorpe 1, Day 1.