Roster spots have shifted for the Barnes County North High School volleyball team but head coach Tori Enstad is not too worried.
"(Injuries) have led us into preparing a younger set of girls to see varsity playing time," Enstad said. "We have a talented group of girls and I am trying to push them to understand that we can play well, and we can compete with other teams."
The Bison stand at 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the District 5 standings having most recently fallen to nonconference Enderlin in four Thursday evening.
The Bison are looking up at Oakes (8-0, 3-0 District 5) and Carrington (5-2, 1-0), having dropped a five-setter to Ellendale on Sept. 8 and being swept by South Border on Sept. 17.
Enstad said the team's toughest competition thus far has come against South Border. The Mustangs are the No. 2 team in Region 3's District 6 with a record of 4-2 and are second only to 6-0 Linton/HMB, which downed the Mustangs in a sweep on Sept. 3.
Linton/HMB is currently ranked No. 2 in Class B by the state's media. Oakes is ranked No. 3, while Carrington is ranked No. 8.
"They are a good team," Enstad said of the Mustangs. "It is always fun to play teams from Region 3 because no matter who it is, it is going to more than likely always be a competitive game."
Enstad and her varsity squad will have a shot at taking down the top two teams in District 5 in the next couple of weeks. The Bison are set to square off against Oakes on Oct. 1 before seeing Carrington on Oct. 6, and Enstad said her team has been working to be ready for both battles.
"We spend a lot of time in practice working on our passing form, staying low, and holding our platforms as a follow-through," Enstad said. "We are consistently passing better on serve receive than previous years which is awesome growth.
"We (also) spend a little bit of each practice working on the mental side of volleyball - being a good teammate, being coachable and being competitive."
One member of the 2020 Bison squad has owned being coachable.
For the past few seasons, junior Hanna Wieland has been hammering balls on the outside but made a switch to setter due to an injury sustained early in the season at that position.
"Hanna has been working really hard at learning this new position to not only improve her setting skills but to be able to get the ball where her teammates want to hit them," Enstad said. "Being able to move Hanna from one position to the next says a lot about her work ethic and her character."
Prior to Thursday's match, the junior had fed the ball to the front three 112 times. Enstad said the Bison can also count on Wieland's consistent and powerful serves. Wieland racked up 21 unpassable serves from the backline and hammered 30 kills at the net.
"Hanna is a leader on the court and off; she's always supportive and holds her teammates accountable," Enstad said.
Wieland and the Bison are set to face Maple Valley on Sept. 28. First serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
"We are anxious for the rest of the season and looking forward to seeing our progress," Enstad said.