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Packers top Knights, advance in playoffs

Senior Courtney Suppa of West Fargo spikes against Grand Forks Central during their EDC play-in volleyball game Friday at West Fargo High School. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service1 / 2
Jadyn Cookman, left, and Izzy Waite of West Fargo block against Jess Longtin of Grand Forks Central. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service2 / 2

The West Fargo Packers volleyball team had a rough final regular season game on Tuesday, falling to Valley City in three games (25-22, 25-19, 25-23) and locking the Packers into seventh place in the Eastern Dakota Conference, which meant they would have to compete in a play-in game before taking part in the proper, eight-game playoffs.

Fortunately, they hardly broke a sweat in topping the Grand Forks Central Knights in three games (25-22, 25-14, 25-11) on Friday night to advance into the playoffs.

“I thought we played very well,” head coach Paula Pierson said. “We kept our errors to a minimum, and we did a decent job passing.”

Senior Courtney Suppa led the team with 15 kills and a block in Friday’s game. She also led the team on Tuesday against Valley City with 18 kills.

Setter Jadyn Cookman finished the game with 26 assists, and senior Shelby Gustafson tallied five kills and five aces. Sophomore Kennedi Sand also tallied five kills.

Junior McKenzie Speidel had nine digs in the game and senior Kaitlin Langerud was right behind her with eight, to go along with her two aces.

“The girls have definitely been far more aggressive lately,” Pierson said.”That stems from the fact that we have been passing better and serving better.”

The victory capped off a four-week period in which the Packers have won six of the last eight games -- including handing top-ranked Fargo Shanley their only conference loss in a four-game win -- to bring their conference record to an even 9-9 and end the regular season with a winning record overall (17-15).

“We as a coaching staff have known for a long time that the talent is there,” Pierson said. “It was just a matter of finding the right combination of players to put on the court, and I believe we have done that. We know if we play the way we are capable of playing, we can hang with any team in the EDC. We just have to be relaxed and confident.”