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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Hagler, Kvilvang dominate at the net for state-bound North Star

Sarah Hagler was used to being the tall girl in her age group on North Star High School athletic teams — until Macey Kvilvang arrived on the scene.

That’s when Hagler started giving up inches. Hagler currently stands 5 feet, 10 inches. That’s decent height in the North Dakota Class B volleyball ranks. But that’s six inches shorter than Kvilvang.

“It was great for our volleyball team when Macey came here,’’ Hagler said. “We had another big girl, so it gave us a 1-2 punch at the net. I think teams have trouble stopping us. And I liked it even more for basketball. She’s a post player, so I could go and play more on the outside. I like that more.’’

The dominance of Hagler and the 6-4 Kvilvang has been a huge factor in the success of the Bearcats.

North Star is 35-2 and will make the program’s first appearance in the Class B state volleyball tournament. The second-seeded Bearcats play Thompson at noon Thursday in a quarterfinal match in Minot.

Hagler and Kvilvang have combined for 80 percent of the team’s kills and 92 percent of the team’s blocks from their middle hitter positions.

“If anybody needs a scouting report on us, it isn’t difficult,’’ said North Star coach Marla Hagler, Sarah’s mother. “It’s no secret, we’re middle-dominated. They’re our go-to players. They do the best job of terminating the ball.

“If given the chance, our outside hitters could get more kills. But Sarah and Macey are so dominant. And we’ve been successful going to the middles.’’

Hagler, a senior and fourth-year regular who has signed to play volleyball at Moorhead State, has 540 kills and 88 blocks, as well as a team-high 358 digs. Kvilvang, a sophomore, has 398 kills and 97 blocks.

Beyond the totals is the efficiency — Hagler has a kill percentage of 51, slightly better than Kvilvang’s 47 percent.

“They’re just so strong at the net,’’ Marla Hagler said. “They hit hard. With Sarah’s experience, she’s so smart at the net. She tips or goes around blockers. And Macey is so tall, she just hits over people.’’

Kvilvang said she doesn’t go against many blockers who can match her height.

“It really helps my blocking, being a presence at the net,’’ she said. “I think a lot of girls get worried when they look across and see a 6-4 girl across from them.’’

After the two middles, the top hitters are Peyton Halverson (80 kills) and Kellie Huschle (51 kills).

“We’re definitely middle dominated,’’ said Sarah Hagler, who was an all-state pick last season. “Teams have trouble blocking Macey because of her height. I have a height advantage against some teams, and I think my experience helps me.’’

Kvilvang moved to Cando from Valley City prior to eighth grade. “Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I was playing in Class A, how different it would be,’’ Kvilvang said. “But I really enjoy Class B. I enjoy living in a small town, where you know everybody.’’

Running the offense is Faith Krom. The junior has made a smooth transition after playing being a defensive specialist last season, as she has 847 assists.

While this is the first time North Star has advanced to the state tournament, the state tournament experience isn’t new to the Hagler family. Sarah Hagler was in the stands as father Jeff coached and brother Jake played in three state boys basketball tournaments.

“Watching my dad and brother, I was happy for them,’’ Sarah Hagler said. “Now I’m happy we’re getting the chance. Now they can be the fans in the stands.’’