The Tornadoes are blowing their competition away.
The Oakes High School volleyball team is one of only two remaining undefeated teams in the Region 3 standings. The Tornadoes now stand at 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the District 5 standings winning 25 of their last 27 sets. Linton/HMB is on top of District 6 having served up eight consecutive sweeps. The Lions are slated to host Oakes Oct. 15.
"We are excited to keep competing," recently hired Oakes head coach Katelyn Hagen said. "Each day of volleyball is a gift. We’ve grown together quickly and will continue to bond as a team."
Hagen, a former assistant coach of District 5 rival LaMoure/Litchville-Marion, has taken the place of 2019 Class B coach of the year Shari Christensen. Christensen's team went 37-4 on the year and earned a second consecutive Region 3 tournament crown en route to the team's appearance in the state finals.
"We’ve had to hit the ground running," Hagen said. "We've adjusted well (to) a new team (and) a new coach. The girls have set team expectations and those say a lot about the culture they want to build and expect from each other."
Oakes is sitting in the No. 3 spot with 107 points in the most recent release of the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NDAPSSA) media poll.
Linton/HMB is holding to the second spot with 114 points and 1 first-place vote. 2018 state champions, Thompson, is in the No. 1 spot with 127 points and 12 first-place votes.
Defending Class B state champs, Langdon/Edmore/Munich rests at spot No. 6 with 52 points. The Cardinals lost talent due to graduation and have postponed games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Just like Langdon/AEM, Oakes lost quite a bit of talent from the 2019 squad - including Class B Senior Athlete of the Year, Nicole Schmitz, who recently got her collegiate volleyball career underway at the University of Jamestown.
Though the Tornadoes lost six seniors to graduation, Hagen said her batch of varsity newbies are handling pressure well.
Having a new set of girls together on the court always requires time devoted to skill work, reads, communication and overall dynamic," Hagen said. "We prepare and we focus on getting better every day. Competing with each other during practice carries over into our matches.
"In-game reads and adjustments are two things are girls have grown to do very well. Also (we are) seeing the court - what opportunities the defense is giving us."
South Border is a team that Hagen said gave the Tornadoes some different looks.
Oakes dropped one of its two lost sets to the Mustangs on Sept. 24. The Mustangs stand at 6-2 overall and 2-1 in District 6. Four of South Border's six wins were sweeps. Hagen said the Mustangs forced Oakes to adjust their defense while still playing a fast tempo offense.
The Tornadoes faced another tough team on Sept. 28 as they matched up against Region 1 leader Kindred. Oakes served the Vikings' their first loss in a 25-22, 25-13, 16-25, 25-12 victory. Hagen said she expected tough competition from Kindred and said the Tornadoes were excited for the opportunity to battle and get better.
Two sophomore middles, Emma Muggli and Laikyn Roney came in clutch at the net for Oakes on Monday. As of Sept. 29, Muggli and Roney combined for 154 kills and 57 rejections at the net.
"Emma Muggli and Laikyn Roney have shown maturity and composure during some critical rallies," Hagen said. "Their abilities to read the court and place the ball keeps getting better."
The duo and the rest of the Oakes squad hosted District 5 rival Barnes County North (4-3, 0-1) on Oct. 1. Final set scores and statistics were unavailable when the Jamestown Sun went to press.
Oakes will be on the road Tuesday, traveling to Griggs-Midkota. The first serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.