Packers upset top-seeded Fargo Shanley
The Packers have struggled for much of the season, but took a step in the right direction last Tuesday with a 3-1 (25-19, 25-21, 21-25, 25-18) upset victory over the Fargo Shanley Deacons, the Eastern Dakota Conference’s No. 1 team.
It was the first conference loss of the season for Shanley, and only their second loss overall.
“We played very well,” head coach Paula Pierson said. “We were able to limit the number of errors we committed, and our blockers were really making it difficult for Shanley to swing freely.”
Leading the charge for the Packers was senior Courtney Suppa, who had 21 kills, 20 digs and two blocks. Her 21 kills is a new school record.
The team also had a strong outing from sophomore Kennedi Sand, who earned 11 kills
“Kennedi played extremely well for us,” Pierson said. “She placed her shots well and really did a great job at the net.”
Senior hitter Kaitlin Langerud tallied nine kills and a block despite being sick the day before, and senior Shelby Gustafson chipped in with eight kills and two blocks of her own.
Senior Maggie McIntosh led the team with 22 digs and four aces, and sophomore setter Jadyn Cookman benefited from a change in strategy that calls for one setter instead of two, tallying 46 assists and breaking Andrea Klug’s previous school record in that category.
“I would say that it was the first time that we had a ‘team’ on the floor all season,” Pierson said.
While much of the season has been fairly mediocre for the Packers, Pierson feels that their performance against the Deacons is much more indicative of the team’s capabilities.
“We have been saying all season that we can finish in the top four (in the EDC),” Pierson said. “Losing Amanda (Levin) for the season was hard for us, but I knew we still had the talent to do well. It just took a while to get everyone to be comfortable, and for us to find out what works best for the team.”
The victory brought the Packers’ record to 12-13 overall and 4-6 in the EDC. With just five games left before the EDC Tournament, Pierson hopes that this victory gives her team the boost they sorely need.
“We definitely have more confidence,” Pierson said. “I can even see it at practice. I think the girls are finally coming into a comfortable stride. I would say we are definitely on the right track.”
The team has three home games this week. First, they will face Grand Forks Central tomorrow night before hosting Fargo North on Saturday afternoon. They will then face the 10-3 Grand Forks Red River Roughriders Tuesday night.