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Packers not going to settle

West Fargo's Jill Gustafson (left) and Rachel Hummel go up for a block against Fargo North on Tuesday in West Fargo. Dave Wallis/The Forum

From the outside, the Packers volleyball team looks to be in pretty good shape.

They are sitting at 1-1 in Eastern Dakota Conference Play, and are 6-2 overall; definitely not a bad way to start the season.

But West Fargo coach Paula Pierson isn't satisfied with "not bad."

"We're not going to settle where we are right now," she said. "We all need to work and improve."

The Packers are coming off a week in which they beat Fargo North in a marathon match, but then fell to Fargo Shanley in straight sets.

On Tuesday, West Fargo took five sets to beat the Spartans 25-17, 15-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-12. Senior Katelyn Holland led the Packers with 11 kills and two aces. Allison Barta and Carissa Becher had 10 kills apiece, while Holland, Becher and Hanna Schnepf each garnered 12 digs for West Fargo.

North (0-2, 4-5) was paced by Jordan Daly's 19 digs, and Keli Johnson's 15 kills.

Though it took some grinding to beat the Spartans, facing the ever-powerful Deacons on Thursday was an entirely different matter.

So far this season, Shanley is undefeated in conference play and has just one loss in eight overall games. In comparison, West Fargo's last win over the Deacons was Oct. 16, 2008, so it was no great shock when the Packers fell 25-23, 25-8, 25-18 on Thursday.

Still, it was a game that could have gone West Fargo's way, Pierson said.

"Against Shanley, a lot of stuff factored in to us not playing our best," she said. "But (the Deacons) have a group of kids who've played together for a long time. They're a good team."

Holland racked up nine kills and two aces to once again pace the Packers. Becher contributed 11 digs, while Barta had 11 assists.

The defensive-minded Deacons saw strong play from sophomore Ashley Vetter, who put up 20 assists, four kills and two aces.

The Packers will have a chance at revenging the loss when they host Shanley on Oct. 5. That gives West Fargo ample time to continue to improve.

"We have a great group of kids and our team chemistry is pretty good," Pierson said. "The goal, as always, is to improve every day."

West Fargo's focus is on strengthening its weaker areas. Though the Packers have proven they can rack up the points, they still have work to do on defense, Pierson said.

"Defense and our serve-receives are our two biggest areas that need improvement," she said.

Next up for the Packers is a road trip to Marshall, Minn., for a two-day tournament beginning Friday.

"It's a different kind of competition for the girls, and a chance for us coaches to change things up," Pierson said.

Though she doesn't know what kinds of changes she will implement in Marshall, Pierson is happy with the group effort West Fargo has given.

"There's no one person who's jumped out in the group," she said. "All of our seniors are stepping up, and our juniors who are participating are learning."