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Packers team up at home one last time

West Fargo’s Shelby Gustafson, center, celebrates a point with teammates Jessica Denolm from Valley City (1) and Madison Wendel from Carrington (12) during the Optimists All-Star volleyball match in West Fargo. David Samson

WEST FARGO – Monday night was a final home match of sorts for recent West Fargo graduates Courtney Suppa and Shelby Gustafson.

West Fargo High School was host to the North Dakota Optimist All-Star volleyball series opener. Suppa and Gustafson were members of the East all-star squad and were victorious in their final appearance on their home court as Packers.

The East All-Stars cruised to a 25-15, 25-16, 25-15 victory over the West. It is the third straight year the East has swept the West in the opening match of the annual series. A guaranteed fourth set was played, which the West won 25-18.

“It was a great opportunity to play here one more time, especially since we didn’t go to state this year,” said Suppa, who tied for the team lead in kills with seven.

“It was a great feeling to be able to play on the court again,” Gustafson added. “To get a win on the court the last time we’ll ever play on it was great.”

Suppa, who is playing volleyball at the University of Jamestown this fall, also added a block and an ace serve in the match.

Suppa had hip surgery after the volleyball season and Monday was the 5-foot-9 outside hitter’s first match back.

Gustafson, a 6-foot middle blocker, added six kills and three blocks for the East. Gustafson, who is playing volleyball at Dickinson State this fall, recorded match point with a kill to secure the sweep.

“It felt good to be able to get the match point,” Gustafson said.

Both Gustafson and Suppa were selected to the all-state first team in Class A last fall and were also All-EDC selections for the Packers, who finished the season 18-17.

“Those two girls have worked so hard during their volleyball careers,” West Fargo head coach Paula Pierson said. “Playing in this all-star match is a nice compliment to what they have accomplished and the commitment they have made to the sport of volleyball.”

This fall Gustafson and Suppa will be opponents. Gustafson’s Blue Hawks travel to play Suppa and the Jimmies on Sept. 30 and also host a match against Jamestown on Oct. 28.

“I knew I wanted to continue playing in college,” Gustafson said. “I went to Dickinson State for a visit and it seemed like a great place to do that.”

Suppa joins the Jimmies, who won the 2013 North Star Athletic Association conference title.

“I’m super excited to be playing at Jamestown this fall,” Suppa said.

“Courtney and Shelby have such a love for this sport and they want to take it to the next level,” Pierson added. “I think they both will be successful.”

Tom Mix

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high school sports reporter. He's worked at The Forum for five years. He was the 2013 North Dakota sportswriter of the year, an award that is sponsored by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to  

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