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Kenmare makes 11th trip to Class B Volleyball Tournament...

When the 2018 volleyball season started, Kenmare’s four seniors were confident they were going to the state tournament.

11/13/18 (Tue)

When the 2018 volleyball season started, Kenmare’s four seniors were confident they were going to the state tournament.

Well, here they are. The Honkers play the third game of the day Thursday at 5 p.m., against the No. 1 Langdon Cardinals.

The four Honker seniors, Jeneca Kostad, Marissa Jensen, Grace Burud and Taylor Schoemer, suffered a heartbreaking defeat a year ago in the Region 8 championship when they lost a 3-2 decision to Watford City in what was billed as one of the most exciting volleyball matches in recent memory.

Those four seniors were going to make sure that didn’t happen twice.

So they promptly swept the Stanley Blue Jays 3-0, including a blowout final game, to earn their 11th entry into the state Class B tournament.

No. 2 Thompson opens the tournament against Center-Stanton at 1 p.m., Thursday followed at 3 p.m., with No. 3 Northern Cass against Our Redeemer’s. Kenmare plays Langdon at 5 and No. 4 Oakes and No. 5 Dickinson Trinity play the opening night finale.

Honker head coach Tim Wallstrum said Langdon is ranked No. 1 in Class B for a reason. He suspected the Honkers might get matched with the Cardinals when he learned of the brackets on Friday.

In addition, the Cardinals are coming off their first-ever Class A football championship just a week ago so that momentum has carried over to the volleyball team.

At the time, he didn’t have a game plan and said he had a week to figure it out.

“They’re a solid unit,” he said. “They have so many weapons and they’re well rounded.”

Wallstrum and Cardinal head coach Rich Olson are two of the winningest coaches in the Class B ranks. This is Wallstrum’s 11th trip to the state tournament with titles in 2007 and 2009.

Kenmare’s run to the Class B included six consecutive entries in the big dance taking second in 2006, first in 2007, third in 2008, first in 2009, third in 2010 and fifth in 2011.

Olson is making his 17th trip to state since he began his coaching career in Langdon in 1997. The Cardinals have state titles in 2003, 2008 and 2010, as well as 1996.

The Honkers and Cardinals met this season in the Des Lacs/Burlington tournament and Wallstrum suggested it wasn’t pretty.

The Honkers lost a 2-0 contest by considerable margins of 25-12 and 25-13.

“We didn’t score much,” he said. “They are just so overpowering. Rich is a good coach, but he’s been fortunate too.”

Ironically, the Cardinals currently have two injured players and they still have managed to maintain their No. 1 ranking.

OK! Kenmare is the underdog, but stranger things have happened.

“I talked to the girls about state in the district championship,” he said. “I told the girls to take that one lopsided game out of there and we were evenly matched. We just should have served better.”

Wallstrum talked about the rest of the field telling The Kenmare News, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

“Thompson’s only losses were to Langdon and Bismarck Century,” he said. “Northern Cass is getting so big and Oakes has a really good hitter who has helped them a lot.”

Dickinson Trinity, considered the premiere program in western North Dakota, got ranked fifth so Wallstrum’s concern is genuine that the four teams from the east have solid programs.

“We faced Trinity,” Wallstrum said. “They played a smooth tournament in the Coal Country Tournament, but they got ranked fifth, even though they’re a leader in the west.”

In the regional, the talk was the Honkers had a tough road to hoe against the Blue Jays, who faced each other three times this season. They finished 1-1 in Coal Country, played once during the regular season, lost to the Blue Jays in the district tournament and knocked them off in the Region 8 title.

The Honkers were the No. 2 seed from District 16 and were matched up with the Alexander Comets, the third seed from District 15.

After beating Alexander 3-0, they moved on to sweep Divide County, 3-0 and in the championship stopped the No. 1 team 3-0, punching their ticket to the Minot State University Dome.

Stanley took a 3-0 win over Parshall in the Region 8 opener, followed by a tough, 3-2 win over the Ray Jays to match up with Kenmare. 

The two remaining teams in the tournament were Trenton and Trinity Christian of Williston.

Wallstrum admits state competition is a cut above a district or regional tournament, but he said the girls are ready and they are excited.

He’s also hoping a lot of Honker fans attend the tournament since the fan support in the regional was paramount.

“We had a lot of fan support and that really helped us,” Wallstrum said. “It was loud in there. And it doesn’t hurt that we have the Senior Athlete in the region (Jensen) who had 14 kills in the regional title match.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!