15U Junior Jackets a perfect five for five
WEST FARGO — The 15U Jacket Juniors volleyball team recorded their fifth straight tournament victory this past weekend at the North Country Regional (NCR) tournament.
Not only did the team win the NCR championship, they did so without losing a single set in five matches. West Fargo, two different Fargo Davies teams, Shanley and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton all went down in defeat to the Jackets.
“We’ve been working really hard on just being a better team and working together,” Head Coach Madi Brantner said.
The 15’s comprise a team built around multiple strengths, rather than relying on a handful of good players. The team’s variety was showcased at the NCR tourney. Maria Rutten led in kills; Amy Scheidecker moved the ball around with consistent passing; Ali Petersen led in assists, while Morgan Byer and Alex Lubitz led at the service line.
“We have strengths from all over,” said Brantner. “When you have that and you don’t have just one person, it’s nice to be able to move the ball around, because then the other team doesn’t know where to block. The setters do a nice job of mixing it up and giving everyone a good shot.”
“We try to hit more of our corners,” Alex Lubitz said.
The Jacket Juniors did plenty of that and are on a roll that bodes well for the future of Perham volleyball. With success at such a young age, this core group has three more years to improve and make an impact on the state tournament come their senior seasons.
The team is made up of eight freshmen: Amy Scheidecker, Ali Petersen, Ella Von Ruden, Lauren Anderson, Alex Lubitz, Morgan Byer, Maria Rutten and Marina Reese, who have combined to be a powerhouse this year. Winning, however, is nothing new to this group of girls.
We were undefeated in seventh and eighth grade,” Rutten said. “We’re still working really hard and trying to perfect it.”
Rutten is an offensive team leader.
“I try to be,” she said.
Maria made a big impact at the varsity level this past season with an ability and willingness to attack the net. Kills and spikes from Rutten have a big impact on the team’s mentality and are definitely a proponent to success. When Rutten hits, it is with a noticeable force and compliments a scrambling defensive style with punctuation.
“We have played very good defense,” Brantner said. “Amy will come flying out of the back row for an awesome dig and then to get a kill, everyone gets excited. Both defensively and offensively we’ve been playing well, which you have to do. You can’t just play one aspect of the game to win.”
“We work really hard together and we never give up and we always pick each other up when we’re down,” Scheidecker said.
Like their style of play, the 15’s have a controlled confidence that shows itself in a manner that is as uniquely different as each of the players that make up this team on a roll.
“We knew we’d be alright,” said Scheidecker. “We’ve had good seasons before. We’re pretty confident in each other.”
“We don’t try to go into it expecting that,” Lubitz said of winning a fifth straight tournament. “We always try hard. We’re going into it thinking we’re going to do good, so I hope that’s true.”
One true hope for this team is a career of success in middle school transferring to high school. This season is the bridge between the two and more than one of these players will be making an impact on the court come next fall.
Here are the team members pictured in order: Amy Scheidecker, Ali Petersen, Ella Von Ruden, Lauren Anderson, Alex Lubitz, Morgan Byer, Maria Rutten and Marina Reese.