Bishop Ryan volleyball coach Patty Luetzen was all smiles after completing the second of two matches on the opening day of the Laker Invitational at Burlington-Des Lacs Elementary School on Friday.
Our Redeemer's Christian School coach Sherry Carlson was not as happy with her team's performance in the Knights' latter match against Lisbon, but said winning the first two matches of the tournament was key.
Both the Lions (13-10-2 overall) and Knights (22-6-3) opened the first day of pool play strong and placed themselves in position to advance out of their respective pools and into the championship bracket. Ryan split its matches against Midkota (26-24, 18-25) and Stanley (21-25, 25-8), earning three points for the day.
Bishop Ryan sophomore outside hitter Hannah Stewart, left, lobs a shot over the outstretched hands of Stanley sophomore Brianna Holland at the Laker Invitational on Friday at Burlington-Des Lacs Elementary School.
"Our goal is to get into the gold (bracket)," Luetzen said. "That's a step up for us. We played really good against Midkota. We played awesome."
Stanley finished runner-up and Midkota placed third at last year's state tournament.
The top two teams in each of the four pools advance to the championship bracket, while the bottom three teams from each group play in the consolation bracket. A team is awarded three points for a straight-game victory, two points for a tie while scoring more points, 1.5 for a tie with equal points scored and one point for a split while scoring fewer points.
ORCS swept its matches against North Border (25-9, 25-9) and Lisbon (25-22, 25-18) to collect six points.
After cruising against North Border, the Knights struggled with a flurry of errors to keep Lisbon close in each game. A look of frustration was plastered on Carlson's face after consecutive service errors by eighth-grade setter Morgan Olson and senior middle hitter Emily VanLith during the second game. VanLith redeemed herself by winning the final two points of the match with a block and a kill.
"You definitely want to win your first day's matches," Carlson said. "You want to do anything you can to get into that gold bracket. They came ready to play against North Border. They just went to town. But I don't know how you can have so many mistakes against Lisbon and come out on top. We made a lot of errors, a lot of service errors."
The Knights sit tied atop Pool A with Langdon. The Cardinals swept their matches against Lisbon (25-21, 25-21) and Dickinson Trinity (25-21, 25-16).
"When there's a two-day tournament, it's a good confidence boost when you win both games the first day because you have confidence going into the next day," ORCS senior outside hitter Ashley Koppinger said.
The Lions - playing in Pool B - control their own destiny to earn the No. 2 spot in the group. Ryan is tied for second with Stanley and Hazen, but own the tiebreaker with Stanley. The Lions play Hazen today in a potential championship-bracket qualifier.
"Scrappy playing motivates good hitting," Luetzen said. "If we can be scrappy there's no question our hitting will do well."
ORCS plays Langdon at 9 a.m. and Dickinson Trinity at 11:30 a.m. today. Ryan plays Hazen at 9 a.m. and Park River at 10:45 a.m. All four matches are at Bishop Ryan High School.