LANGDON, N.D. -- Calyn Crockett went from one of the top Langdon-Edmore-Munich hitters as a sophomore to a spectator after she sustained a major knee injury early last season.
Crockett has returned to the volleyball court this season. But, rather than finisher, her primary job is setting up other Cardinals hitters.
The senior has stepped in as a first-year setter and been the quarterback of an L-E-M team that won the Region 4 title and is returning to the North Dakota Class B state high school tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
Langdon-Edmore-Munich takes a 35-3-2 record and the No. 3 seed into its state quarterfinal match against Flasher at 3 p.m Thursday at the Fargodome.
After Crockett ranked third on the 2017 Cardinals team with 177 kills, veteran L-E-M coach Rich Olson said it looked like she had taken her game to a higher level at the start of last season.
“I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d gotten to 350 kills last year,’’ Olson said.
“But when I told her at the start of this season that I wanted her to start playing setter in a 6-2 offense, she said let’s do it. And after a couple of weeks, we decided to go to a 5-1 with her setting. She didn’t hesitate. That’s how she is, a team player.’’
Crockett was happy to just return to the court. Sitting and watching last season wasn’t easy. And she knew L-E-M had a big void in the lineup after the graduation last spring of all-state setter Madi Pritchard, who was the lone senior rotation regular on last season’s team that finished third at state.
Pritchard, like Crockett, was an ex-hitter. She made the transition from starting righside hitter as a junior.
“It was hard not playing,’’ Crockett said. “My teammates and coaches helped me get through it. Knowing I could come back and play this year, I used that as motivation.
“We knew somebody would have to take Madi’s place. I was just happy to be back playing. I’d do whatever was best for the team. The transition was easier because all of my teammates, coaches and the community believed in me and supported me.’’
Crockett, who had no setting experience, admits she was looking forward to hitting again. “It’s always fun to be a hitter, putting the ball away. It looks cool,’’ she said. “But I’ve always liked setting up hitters. And, having been a hitter, I understand what sets hitters want. I still have some ugly sets, but our hitters pick me up.’’
There were some bumps initially. Olson said it took time for Crockett to learn how to run an offense -- where each hitter likes a set, the timing, things like that.
“But Calyn worked hard at it,’’ Olson said. “And she’s an athlete. She could play anywhere on the court and do well. It’s really been a smooth transition.
“When we went to a 5-1 and put Calyn at setter, our offense took off. Our hitting percentage really improved. We played better.’’
There is plenty of hitting.
Senior and two-time all-state pick Callie Ronningen leads the way with 404 kills. She went over the 2,000-mark for career kills this season.
Morgan Freije (227 kills), Lexi Olson (216), Cora Badding (143) and Kaylee Lowery (123) round out the regular hitters. Crockett, showing no after effects from the knee injury, still gets into the termination act with 116 kills to go with her 809 assists.
“This team is the definition of balance,’’ Olson said. “As far as spreading the ball around and using all the options, it’s probably the most balanced offense we’ve ever had.
“That’s the luxury we had in being able to move Calyn. And she can still do dynamic things at the net as a hitter and blocker.’’
Langdon-Edmore-Munich volleyball at a glance
Coach -- Rich Olson.
Record -- 35-3-2, Region 4 champion.
Class B state tournament opener -- The Cardinals, seeded third, play Flasher at 3 p.m. Thursday in a state quarterfinal match at the Fargodome,
Recent state tournament history -- The Cardinals are making their fifth consecutive appearance at the state tournament, finishing third the past three seasons after being state runner-up four seasons ago. The program has won three state titles, the last in 2010. This is the program's 20th state tournament appearance.
Regular rotation (kills-blocks-service aces-digs) -- Sr. MH Callie Ronningen (404-60-71-455), jr. MH Lexi Olson (216-63-107-437), soph. OH Morgan Freije (227-29-87-142), jr. OH Kaylee Lowery (123-30-54-269), 8th-grader OH Cora Badding (143-31-0-64), sr. S Calyn Crockett (116-40-114-254, 809 assists), sr. LIB Kaitlynn Scherr (1-0-0-398), soph. Morgan Thielbar (1-0-45-65, 143 assists).