WEST FARGO — One week after shaking up the seeding of the North Dakota Class A East Region volleyball tournament, West Fargo went ahead and shook up the entire field.
The sixth-seeded Packers overcame a sluggish first set by dominating the last three, upsetting third-seeded West Fargo Sheyenne 20-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-20 in the opening round of the tournament Tuesday.
Seven days removed from a home upset loss to the Packers in their regular season finale, the Mustangs looked in line for a bounce back in the first set, scoring the first four points, then riding a 10-4 scoring surge to pull away for the five-point win.
But over the next two sets, Sheyenne had the lead just once, a 1-0 advantage that was the result of the Packers not submitting their lineup card in time.
The Packers jumped ahead 14-8 early in set two, then closed on a 7-1 run after the Mustangs had gotten within a point.
The domination carried over into set three, as West Fargo responded from the lineup card miscue by scoring the next four points, a rally capped by a Lucie Holaday ace.
The Mustangs also spent nearly all of set four playing from behind, as they were once again unable to grab a lead bigger than a point. Down 11-10, the Packers pulled ahead for good with a 4-0 run.
After being outplayed at the net in the opening set, the Packers reversed that trend in a big way over the next three, as hitters Halle Erickson (16 kills), Mariah Schatz (14) and Erin Binstock (10) routinely got open looks at the net.
The group was nicely set up by players on the back end, as Katelyn Tveito had 29 assists, while Maddie Waldera added 22 digs.
A Packer team that started five sophomores looked far more loose than a Mustang squad with six seniors, and the young group's confidence was evident with its head coach.
"We told them 'This is yours to win or this is yours to lose," Coach Kelsey Gibbons said. "We've got to earn every single point and believe that we can do it. And I think they turned it on from set two and didn't stop from there."
Mustang Coach Leah Newton noticed a different mindset from her team, which was done in by spacing and communication issues.
"We played tight," she said. "We hesitated and we made some crucial mistakes and we didn't take advantage of some opportunities. And at this point in the seasons, in the playoffs, you can't do that. You've got to step up and bring your game all the time."
Still looking to qualify for its first-ever state tournament, the Mustangs are in the all-too-familiar spot of playing in the loser's bracket. But with the season on the line, Newton says she's "very confident" her team can bounce back Friday against a Red River team the Mustangs beat twice during the regular season.
On the other side, the Packers move on to face a Fargo Shanley team they went 0-3 against this season.
But a young group that spent most of the fall looking for an identity believes it has found one in recent weeks, and West Fargo players are ready to prove themselves as a legit state contender.
"We were kind of the underdog this year, but we worked hard to get where we are," Erickson said. "I really hope (this proves we're for real)."
Devils Lake 3, Valley City 0
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Devils Lake earned a 25-22, 27-25, 25-23 sweep over Valley City on Tuesday in the East Region quarterfinals.
Mattea Vetsch led the way for the Firebirds with 12 kills, adding 11 digs. Chiara Olson added eight kills with 14 digs. Taylor Windjue tallied 37 assists and Abby Johnson paced the defense with 30 digs.
Macy Olstad led Valley City with 11 kills and Cali Halgrimson added nine. Grace Scherr had 27 digs and Natalie Lemnus tallied 16 assists.
No. 4 Devils Lake (20-12) advances to face No. 1 Fargo Davies (29-2) at 6 p.m. Friday in the championship semifinals.
No. 5 Valley City (20-10) will play No. 9 Fargo South (12-19) at 2 p.m. Friday in the consolation semifinals.
Fargo Davies 3, Fargo South 0
FARGO — Fargo Davies swept Fargo South 25-17, 25-15, 25-15 Tuesday in the North Dakota Class A East Region quarterfinals.
Grace Solberg paced Davies with 11 kills. Madeline Cooper tallied eight kills and three blocks, while Keely Terry added seven kills and six blocks. Kenzee Langlie totaled 22 assists. Averi Beyer, Madi Langlie and Grace Solberg each recorded 12 digs to lead the Eagles defense.
No. 1-seeded Davies (29-2) advances to play No. 4-seeded Devils Lake (20-12) at 6 p.m. Friday in the championship semifinals.
No. 9-seeded South (12-19) will face No. 5 Valley City (20-10) at 2 p.m. Friday in the consolation semifinals.
Fargo Shanley 3, Grand Forks Red River 1
FARGO — Fargo Shanley topped Grand Forks Red River 25-13, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23 in the East Region quarterfinals.
Reile Payne led Shanley with 16 kills and three aces, and Grace Meier added 10 kills. Jordyn Stroup totaled 34 assists and Hailey Giauque led the Deacons defense with 15 digs.
Alex Page paced Red River with 15 kills and three blocks. Alex Richards paced the Roughriders defense with 19 digs.
No. 2 Shanley (21-11) advances to face No. 6 West Fargo (20-13) at 8 p.m. Friday in the championship semifinals. No. 7 Red River (11-23) will play No. 3 West Fargo Sheyenne (21-11) at 4 p.m. Friday in the consolation semifinals.