Two worlds collided for Katelyn Hagen Thursday evening.
The newly hired head volleyball coach for Oakes High School squared off against District 5 rival LaMoure/Litchville-Marion -- a team the recent hire has close ties with.
"I was an assistant at LaMoure last year," Hagen said. "I loved it - I am a Lobo alumni. Moving was more of a family decision. Our kids are going to go to the Oakes schools and the opportunity for the head position came up and I just had to apply for that. I couldn't pass it up."
The move hasn't been beneficial for only the Hagen family. At 4-0 the Tornadoes are doing well under Hagen's instruction, having most recently defeated the Loboes in a sweep (26-24, 25-18, 25-17) Thursday night in Oakes.
"It was more so fun than anything," Hagen said of the matchup between the two teams. "I know the LaMoure girls well and I know they are competitors and there's a lot of talent there. I just tried to prepare our girls the best way I could and I think they really executed.
"It was fun to watch those Loboes compete but it was definitely awesome coaching our Tornadoes and seeing them come out with a W."
Hagen has taken the place of 2019 Class B coach of the year Shari Christensen who led the Tornadoes to the state finals last season. Christenson's team went 37-4 on the year and earned a second consecutive Region 3 tournament crown.
"They've had a lot of success - they've had some great teams and Shari was a great coach," Hagen said. "Maybe I felt a little bit of pressure walking into it but ultimately it's a new team and a new coach. I am just trying to put my own spin on things -- not to walk in somebody else's footsteps (but) have our own program, develop our own culture and make the best of it."
It may be a new team but there are plenty of 2019 state tournament returners who are eager to get back to the state title game for the third consecutive year.
"Sadie Hansen - she's our main senior veteran," Hagen said. She's definitely been a key for us - having those hands at setting position is a consistent there. We're also having her swing a lot more than she has in previous years."
In 2019 Hansen set a state tourney record of 70 assists in the team's state semi-final match and earned all-tournament team honors. Hansen has totaled more than 3,000 assists so far in her high school volleyball career.
Hagen said while the Tornadoes lost 2019 Class B senior athlete of the year and University of Jamestown volleyball commit Nicole Schmitz to graduation, there is still plenty of talent at the net for Oakes. Hagen said the combination of hard swings and court awareness from junior setter and right side Abby Cox has helped the Tornadoes in tight situations. Senior right-side Grace Day also brings experience and knowledge to the team having been in critical matches in previous seasons.
The upperclassmen may have more experience than the up-and-coming sophomores and freshmen class but one of the six sophomores on the Tornadoes' roster has gotten Hagen's attention.
"Emma Muggli has really got some power and she's really grown into herself and learned how to control her swing and control her hits," Hagen said. "Hopefully we can keep building on that."
Muggli posted a pair of aces and smashed five balls into the Loboes side of the floor Thursday. The 6-foot middle also tallied a single block and six block assists. Cox ended the District 5 matchup with seven kills and fed the ball to the front three 11 times.
"We are an aggressive team," Hagen said. "We have a lot of powerful hitters and powerful servers. Our skill altogether is pretty well rounded and that's why we run a fast offense. We're continuing to learn and build on that skill of reading the defense and reading what they are giving us and best utilizing that."
While the head coach said she is working hard to prepare and better her team during practice times by competing and also spending time watching film to better technique. When game day arrives, however, Hagen said part of her coaching philosophy is to let the players play the game.
"During their matches - I leave it up to the girls," Hagen said. "I want them to be self-solvers and they definitely have been so far. When we get into tight situations or we dig ourselves a little bit of a hole, the girls know how to rally behind each other. I think they have proven that already and I think that is why we are 4-0 and hopefully we can continue that."
Oakes is sitting at spot No. 4 with 82 points in the most recent release of the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NDAPSSA) media poll. The Tornadoes earned the top spot in the District 5 standings while Barnes County North has claimed spot No. 2 at 3-1. The Loboes are 2-3 overall.
"Our region is definitely one of the most talented and competitive in the state," Hagen said. "There's just a lot of great coaches and a lot of great teams. The competitiveness of our district and our region is what makes it fun. There's no guarantee so you really have to bring your game when you play teams in our region."
Hagen said it is going to be a challenging season for the Black and Orange but the Tornadoes are ready to let er' rip.
"The girls are just ready to work and they know what it takes to get back to that state championship," Hagen said. "That's what we are going to be doing all season is getting better every match so hopefully, later in the season, we can be at that last match on the last night of the tournament."
Oakes 3, LaMoure/LM 0
LLM 24 18 17
OAKES 26 25 25
LLM -- Kills: Ashlyn 5, Molly M. 7, Nateal 6, Rose 1, Katrina 1, Heidi 3, Anna 1. Assists: Katrina 7, Rose 7, Ashlyn 2, Mollie 2, Anna 1, Nateal 1. Digs: Ashlyn 8, Nateal 13, Risa 10, Katrina 6, Molly 6, Mollie R. 2, Rose 2, Kierra 1, Anna 1. Aces: Ashlyn 1, Risa 1, Nateal 1, Katrina 1. Blocks: Heidi 5, Anna 4, Nateal 4, Ashlyn 3, Mollie 1.
OAKES --Kills: Laikyn Roney 10, Sadie Hansen 9, Abby Cox 7, Emma Muggli 5, Grace Day 3, Aspen Hill 1, Brynn Dethlefsen 1. Assists: Hansen 16, Cox 11. Digs: Day 9, Roney 6, Hansen 4, Dethlefsen 3, Hill 3, Cox 3, Muggli 1. Aces: Hansen 2, Muggli 2, Roney 2, Cox 1. Blocks: Muggli 6, Cox 4, Roney 4, Day 4, Hansen 1.
Records: Oakes 4-0, LaMoure/LM 2-3.