Competitive similarityPublished 11:58am Friday, November 1, 2013
The Fergus Falls volleyball team hasn’t had many doubters over the past three seasons. After taking runner-up honors the past two seasons in the Section 8AAA tournament, the Otters are finally looking to breakthrough in the Section 8AA playoffs and advance to state for the first time.
In their way stands the Thief River Prowlers. The Prowlers carry in a 26-4-2 record, earning them the No. 5 (Class AA) ranking and the number one overall seed in the section tournament. Thief River Falls will be looking to make back-to-back trips to the state tournament after finishing as the consolation champion.
“We know they will match up close to us,” Otters head coach Renee Erickson said. “They are a very experienced team and are big at the net. Their hitters swing with power, while they are also very good at serving.”
The Prowlers have relied on hitters seniors Brooke Yaggie and Courtney Amirayan and sophomore Meleah Biermaier as its trio of attackers.
“Biermaier can hit from several different spots on the court, while Brooke Yaggie does a nice job keeping the ball on the court,” Erickson said.
The Otters do not just have a trio, but a foursome of attackers to worry defenses. Senior Anna Monke has been on a tear as of late, recording 23 kills in the Otters previous game and continuing dominant play at the net that began late in the regular season. Monke is not the only power hitter for Fergus as seniors Brianna Rasmusson, Kristin Traiser and Laura Gaustad can leave defenses guessing where the Otters will strike from next.
Erickson also said that the two teams are both consistent in their serving, making few errors and racking up several points.
In matches against comparable opponents, the Otters and the Prowlers are nearly identical. Both teams were able to defeated Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Park Rapids Area, Crookston and Hawley, while each has dropped a game to No. 3 (Class AA)Kasson-Mantorville.
Fergus advantage comes in its overall competition as it competes in a tough Central Lakes Conference. Of the Otters six losses, only two come from opponents in the same class with the other tree coming against foes a class above. The Prowlers have lost three games to equal class opponents and one to a lower class competitor.
Thief River Falls will be riding the momentum from a 12 set winning streak that began in the last regular season game. Fergus also looked to be perfect in the playoffs, but the Perham Yellowjackets fought a tough third set to force the game to a four set victory for the Otters.
The numbers and statistics will mean little as these two teams take the court in search of a section title and a berth in the state tournament.
Asked what it would mean to her if the Otters make it to their first state tournament, Erickson quickly focused on the program and the team.
“I don’t ever think about it from the me perspective. I think that if we make it there it would be great for the program and the girls. There is nothing arrogant about these girls, they come out everyday and work hard to accomplish the goals we set out at the beginning of the season. I think they would like to make it, not only for themselves, but for the entire program,” Erickson said.
The Otters and Prowlers will take the court at 7 p.m. Saturday in Hawley.