Oakes kicked off the three day Class B Region 3 volleyball tournament in Linton on Monday.
Oakes High school defeated Strasburg/Zeeland (25-12, 25-18 25-14) in the opening round to advance to the Region 3 semifinals. The Tornadoes will face LaMoure/Litchville-Marion Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Linton. LLM topped Medina-Pingree-Buchanan on Monday 3-1.
Oakes swept past the Loboes (25-17, 25-22, 25-19) on Sept. 12 but it has been two months since the two teams have faced off. Oakes head coach Shari Christenson said it will be a battle to see who gets a trip to the state tournament.
"First ball contact has to continue to be solid," Christenson said of what Oakes will have to do against LLM. "(We have to) execute our defensive gameplan. Play fearless and with confidence."
A regional tournament loss means a team is out of contention for the state tournament at the Fargodome. Fortunately for Oakes, the experienced crew on the court and on the sidelines have helped prepare the team for the intense matches.
"I think all teams feel a bit more pressure because it is a must-win," Christenson said. "It comes down to how each team reacts when they get uncomfortable during a big match.
"Our coaching staff has been intentional in making our team uncomfortable throughout the season so our girls should be ready to step into a big game."
They were sure ready on Monday.
Senior outside Nicole Schmitz led the Tornadoes at the net with 19 kills and a pair of aces on the night. Allison Jepson put 10 balls on the ground while sophomore middle Abby Cox put three to bed.
Cox and junior setter Sadie Hansen led from the service line combining for six aces against Strasburg/Zeeland. Hansen fed the ball to her front three 29 times while senior libero Claire Wagner anchored the back with 12 digs. Jepson also kept four balls alive in the back row.
"This group of girls is pretty amazing. They have committed to being part of something bigger than themselves," Christenson said. "(I am) proud of the team for how they responded when Sadie was injured. They could have just folded (but) girls took on new roles and didn’t skip a beat.
"It was ugly at times, but they always had each other’s backs. Like I said, this entire group is pretty amazing. We are just blessed to get to coach them."
Oakes 3, Strasburg/Zeeland 0
OAKES 25 25 25
S/Z 12 18 14
OAKES -- Kills: Nicole Schmitz 19, Allison Jepson 10, Abby Cox 3. Assists: Sadie Hansen 29. Digs: Claire Wagner 12, Jepson 4. Aces: Schmitz 2, Jepson 2, Hansen 3, Cox, 3, Wagner 1. Blocks: Jepson 2, Hansen 2.
Records: Oakes 33-3, 8-2; S/Z 24-10, 4-5.
Region 3 Tournament
At Linton High School
Nov. 12 semifinals
Oakes (33-3) vs. LaMoure/LM (31-8), 5 p.m.
Medina/PB (18-15) vs. Carrington (33-4), 6:30 p.m.