N.D. Class B state volleyball tournament: A smooth transition

PARK RIVER, N.D. -- Four players had more than 100 kills for the Park River/Fordville-Lankin volleyball team last season. Three of them graduated. So did the Aggies' starting setter.

PARK RIVER, N.D. -- Four players had more than 100 kills for the Park River/Fordville-Lankin volleyball team last season. Three of them graduated. So did the Aggies' starting setter.

The one returning player from that group is Sydney Larson. And the senior wasn't concerned about what kind of attack the Aggies could muster this season.

"I wasn't worried about our offense," Larson said. "We always scrimmaged starters against non-starters last year. They (non-starters) always proved themselves in our practices."

The new-look Aggies are in a familiar spot, as they return to the North Dakota Class B state tournament. Park River/Fordville-Lankin will make its second straight state appearance when it meets Linton-H-M-B in a quarterfinal match at 6 p.m. Thursday in Minot.

Larson is the big hitter in the PR/F-L attack, which is no surprise. She was second on last season's team that finished sixth at state with 302 kills. As the go-to player this season, the 5-foot-9 senior is approaching the 500-kill mark. She's currently at 459.


Brittnee Linn, another returning regular, has almost doubled her production with 185 kills compared to the 96 she finished with last season. Sophomore Kirsten Johnson (228 kills) and senior Shayna Ruzicka (133 kills) have also been consistent contributors. And sophomore Carly Myrdal has made a successful transition from defensive specialist to setter (832 assists).

"I didn't know what to expect, how our team would do," Linn said. "We lost some good players. I felt we could do the job, though."

A new plan

The Aggies have actually emerged as a more balanced, diverse group of attackers than a year ago, when the offense was more reliant on Larson and graduated all-stater Lexi Erickson.

"We knew Sydney was a big hitter," Aggies coach Sherry Currie said. "But we didn't want to be one-dimensional. The successful teams spread the ball around. They mix up their offenses and don't rely on just one big hitter.

"We knew there was promise with our athletic ability. But were things going to come around enough to make a run at getting back to state?"

Currie said there were some bumps along the way. Without a lot of height -- Larson is the tallest of the hitting corps -- the Aggies have emphasized running a quicker offense. The offense hasn't always been consistent. But overall it's a group that has shown more power than the 2009 lineup.

One prominent trait of this group of Aggies, she said, has been work ethic.


"When we struggled, they didn't dwell on it," Currie said. "They kept working. There were times when I wanted to give them a day off. But they always wanted to be in the gym practicing and playing."

Park River/Fordville-Lankin finished second in District 4 in both the regular season and the postseason tournament. But with a return to state on the line, the Aggies put together some of their best play of the season at the regional.

"We weren't expected to be this good this year," Linn said. "To prove ourselves like we have, it's been pretty amazing."

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to .

Park River/F-L at a glance

Record: 29-9-4.

Coach: Sherry Currie.

Thursday's state tournament quarterfinal: Park River/Fordville-Lankin plays Linton-H-M-B at 6 p.m. in the quarterfinal round in Minot.


Recent state tournament history: The Aggies are making their second straight state tournament appearance, finishing sixth last year.

Starting lineup: Soph. 5-5 S Carly Myrdal (832 assists, 63 service aces), sr. 5-9 OH Sydney Larson (459 kills, 63 service aces, 39 blocks, 484 digs), sr. 5-7 MH Brittnee Linn (185 kills, 43 service aces, 24 blocks, 331 digs), sr. 5-6 MH Shayna Ruzicka (133 kills, 28 blocks, 309 digs), jr. 5-5 DS Molly Sobolik (236 digs), sr. 5-5 DS Alaina Myrdal (339 assists, 47 service aces, 128 digs).

Other rotation regulars: Soph. 5-8 OH Kirsten Johnson (228 kills), jr. 5-8 RH Josie Thompson (46 kills), soph. 5-6 S Sadie Vold, sr. 5-6 RH Taylor Schlenk (43 kills).

What To Read Next
Get Local