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Tornadoes fall to Cardinals in state title match

Oakes vb 2019 day 3.jpeg
Oakes’ Shayla Novak hits against Langdon-Edmore-Munich during their championship match of the North Dakota Class B Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO -- They broke some records, won some awards and earned honors -- they just weren't the one the team was hoping for.

The Oakes High School volleyball team fell to the newest state championship holder Langdon/Edmore/Munich in four (25-10, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19) Saturday evening in the Class B state championship match at the Fargodome. The Tornadoes missed the chance at the trophy, but the team did end with some state honors that spoke of the skill and experience the team and coaching staff possessed.

Head coach Shari Christenson earned the 2019 Class B coach of the year award. Christenson's team went 37-4 on the year and earned a second consecutive Region 3 tournament crown. Oakes fell to Thompson in last year's state title match, 3-2.

"They are the most talented and committed group of athletes I have ever coached," Christenson said of her 2019-20 squad. "It is a complete privilege to be in the gym with them every day."

One athlete, in particular, proved to the whole state how committed she was to her team and sport.

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Nicole Schmitz was named the Class B senior athlete of the year. Schmitz put up 17 kills and 13 digs in her final match as a Tornado. The standout outside also put up a new record for the most kills in a single match in the state tournament. Schmitz bested the previous record of 39 by eight. Schmitz totaled 503 kills and 102 aces prior to the state tourney. The senior also put up 361 balls in the back row for junior setter Sadie Hansen.

"It's amazing when other coaches honor and select an athlete from Oakes," Christenson said. "In my mind, she's always been senior athlete of the year. What a testament to what kind of a player she is."

Libero Claire Wagner and Hansen, along with Schmitz, were named to the all-tournament team. The trio was also named to the District 5 team at the district tournament. Hansen set a state tourney record of 70 assists in the team's state semi-final match. The four-year starter put up more than 650 assists on the season while Wagner saved more than 500 balls.

The effort from Oakes just wasn't quite enough. Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich went 40-3 overall and 12-0 in Region 4. In head coach Rich Olson's words, bringing home the state trophy for the fourth time, "feels pretty darn good."

"This group is just a group of grinders and they keep getting better every week," Olson said. "That was our goal going into the season was play our best volleyball at the end of the year and just keep getting better.

"We just did our best to prepare and our kids rose to the challenge."

Oakes will lose six seniors to graduation and Christenson said each final-year athlete will be remembered by the program.

"If you want something that describes us, we're going to have full trust in each other (and) full effort," Christenson said. "We're the 29th team to don the uniform ... Team 29 is who we are."

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Langdon/EM 3, Oakes 1

LAEM 25 19 25 25

OAKES 10 25 21 19

LEM -- Aces: Kaylee Lowery 4, Lexis Olson 3, Morgan Freije 2, Morgan Thielbar. Assists: Calyn Crockett 31, Lowery 5, Olson 3, Callie Ronningen 2. Kills: Freije 12, Olson 12, Ronningen 12, Cora Badding 7, Crockett, Lowery. Blocks: Olson 2, Crockett, Freije, Ronningen. Digs: Olson 23, Ronningen 19, Lowery 17, Kaitlynn Scherr 17, Crockett 14, Freije 12, Badding 3, Thielbar.

OAK -- Aces: Abby Cox 2, Claire Wagner 2, Sadie Hansen. Assists: Hansen 21, Wagner. Kills: Nicole Schmitz 17, Shayla Novak 3, Allison Jepson 3, Cox 2, Hansen 2, Emma Muggli 2. Blocks: Novak 3, Muggli, Jepson. Digs: Wagner 35, Jaida Seyer 15, Grace Day 14, Schmitz 13, Hansen 9, Jepson 4, Cox 3, Muggli 3, Novak 3.

Records: Langdon/EM 40-3. Oakes 37-4.

Awards

Class B senior player of the year: Nicole Schmitz, Oakes.

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Class B coach of the year: Shari Christenson, Oakes.

All-tournament team

Our Redeemer's: Eden Olson, Annie Folden.

Dickinson Trinity: Amaya Willer.

Flasher: Tymber Boldt.

Thompson: Mackenzie Hughes, Macy Jordheim.

Oak Grove: Natalia Kellerman, Jaiden Zeis.

Langdon: Callie Ronnengen, Morgan Freije, Lexis Olson.

Oakes: Nicole Schmitz, Sadie Hansen, Claire Wagner.

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALLPREP SPORTS
Gerber is a sports writer for the Jamestown Sun.
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