The Watford City Wolves were the bridesmaids of Region 8 volleyball in 2015 and again in 2016.
Not this season.
After winning the District 15 championship for the sixth consecutive year, the 2017 Wolves defeated Ray (3-0), Powers Lake (3-1) and Kenmare (3-2) in the region tournament last week to advance to the Class B Final 8 for the first time since 2003.
Four key members of the 2016 team returned this season, and first-year Watford City coach Renae Mogen said they were determined to put an end to the Wolves’ region championship drought.
“The girls were tired of finishing second. It was definitely a goal this year to win the region and go to state,” she said. “We believed we had the team that could get it done. The girls worked very hard and accomplished their goal.”
Watford City, 28-10, will meet No. 2-seeded Langdon-Edmore-Munich at 1 p.m., this afternoon at the Fargodome in the first state tournament quarterfinal match of the day. No. 3 Thompson vs. Shiloh Christian, No. 1 LaMoure-Litchville-Marion vs. Central Cass, and No. 4 Minot Our Redeemer’s vs. No. 5 Dickinson Trinity will follow.
The returning regulars -- hitters Mikka Haugeberg and Tia McGorman, setter Morgan Rolfsrud, and libero Avery Sundeen -- made up the nucleus of the 2017 team, and each of the four has put together a solid season. Haugeberg and McGorman have 307 and 293 kills, respectively. Rolfsrud has 920 assists and Sundeen 470 digs.
Haugeberg also has 331 digs and 57 aces, McGorman 68 blocks, Rolfsrud 207 digs, and Sundeen 64 aces.
“We graduated some very good players last year, but we felt that we could contend for the region title with this group,” Mogen said. “We started the year with an experienced setter and libero and that’s a good foundation to build on. Mikka and Tia are our leaders on offense, and they’ve also done a good job defensively. Along with our core group, we have a number of girls who stepped in and have played very well."
Among them are Emma Mogen (251 kills, 318 digs and a team-high 66 aces), Sydney Sanford (100 kills and 58 aces), and Sydney Faller (84 kills and 23 blocks).
Mogen said the strengths of her team include passing, offensive balance and serving.
“We have an experienced setter and a solid group of hitters,” she said. “A balanced attack definitely puts a lot of pressure on the other team. As for our serving, our percentage is pretty high and we haven’t made many errors.”
It will be Watford City’s last Class B state tournament for a while. The school will move to the Class A ranks next year.
“It’s definitely going to be different, but we’re looking forward to the move,” coach Mogen said. “We want to go out strong. It'll be our last Class B state tournament for we don’t know how long, and we want to make the most of it.”