LANGDON, N.D.-Madi Pritchard was proficient enough as a hitter that she started on the right side for Langdon-Edmore-Munich last season.
That team finished third at the 2017 Class B state high school volleyball tournament. Yet Pritchard wasn't hesitant when she was asked to change positions for her senior season.
The senior now sets for the 40-3-0 Cardinals, who won the Region 4 title and take the No. 1 seed into the state tournament beginning Thursday in Minot.
"I was pretty confident in the switch,'' Pritchard said. "I'd set on the junior varsity. Coach (Rich Olson) gave me a heads up last year that I might be making the switch.
"I was looking forward to it. It was exciting to go back to setter, knowing that I could contribute every time the ball came over the net.''
As the team's record and its fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament indicate, Pritchard has done well replacing graduated all-state setter Rachel Hill.
"Madi had some experience setting,'' Olson said. "She's athletic and feisty. We felt she was our best option.
"When I told her I was thinking about her as a setter, she was excited about it. And I think she knew that being a setter with some of the hitters we have would be pretty fun. She embraced it from Day 1. She's become one of the team leaders.''
With 978 assists on the season, Pritchard figures to hit the 1,000-assist milestone at state.
The Cardinals have options at the net.
Callie Ronningen leads the way. The junior, an all-state pick last season, has 551 kills. In addition, freshman Morgan Freije (248 kills) and sophomore Lexi Olson (191 kills) have emerged as big hitters. Pritchard still gets her swings in-she's fourth on the team with 89 kills.
"Playing right side last year, I had to set some,'' Pritchard said. "So it was a pretty easy transition. But there is a lot of time that goes into it. Different hitters want different ball locations. You have to make a connection with every hitter. It took time. But we made it through.
"They get to the ball really well. They make me look good.''
Absent from the group is Calyn Crockett. The junior had 177 kills a year ago, but suffered a season-ending knee injury when the Cardinals opened at the Northern Cass tournament.
"Most teams, if they lost a Calyn Crockett, their season would be in dire straights,'' Olson said. "The girls were down after it happened. But we told them we had enough talent to be a really good team.
"Ronningen is a big go-to player. She's been lights out, an outstanding hitter. But we have other girls we can go to. Olson, Freije, (Alexis) Lowery, (Brooke) Bakke, they've all really improved. We have more balance than I would have anticipated.''
And running the show is Pritchard-the hitter-turned-setter who was named Region 4 senior player of the year.
"I think Madi's exceeded expectations,'' Olson said. "And I had some high expectations for her.''
Langdon-Edmore-Munich at a glance
Coach: Rich Olson.
Record: 40-3-0, Region 4 champion.
Recent state tournament history: Langdon-E-M is making its fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament, finishing third last season. This is the program's 19th state tournament appearance.
State tournament opener: The top-seeded Cardinals play Kenmare (30-13-0, Region 8 champion) at 5 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class B state tournament in Minot.
Cardinals' regular rotation (kills-blocks-service aces): Sr. S Madi Pritchard (89-23-100, 978 assists, 234 digs), jr. MH Callie Ronningen (551-68-99, 518 digs), soph. MH Lexi Olson (191-62-119, 527 digs), fr. OH Morgan Freije (248-32-67, 159 digs), soph. OH Kaylee Lowery (81-26-17), jr. RH Brooke Bakke (46-18-54, 314 digs), jr. L Kaitlynn Scherr (7-0-0, 410 digs), fr. Morgan Thielbar (0-0-30).