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Volleyball squad looks to continue trend of Perham teams earning state trip

FARGO — Almost every day, Perham’s volleyball team has a meeting to discuss what a champion looks like and what a championship feels like.

Last season, the Yellowjackets saw what champions looked like all throughout the hallways of Perham, but not in the mirror. Eight Perham athletic teams won section championships and went to state last year, while the volleyball team finished 9-19-1 and fell in the second round of section play.

“They absolutely noticed,” Perham volleyball coach Eryn Moser said of other Perham teams’ success. “Our first two weeks of volleyball practice we called mental aerobics and it was grueling and it was tough. I wanted to change the mentality that they could do this. We definitely started the year with a different attitude.”

This season, the volleyball team plans on joining the Perham state club, as the Yellowjackets squad is 23-2 with the state tournament no longer a dream, but a possibility. It all started before the season with Moser, in her first season as a varsity coach, changing the way things were done.

“They had tryouts and they had physical things to do and none of it was easy,” Moser said. “We pushed them hard. We call it mental aerobics because a lot of them wanted to quit. We wanted to create that mental toughness that the coaching staffs in the past had not seen in these girls.”

If there’s anyone who has paid her dues, it’s Tina Scheidecker. Scheidecker was on the 13-16 and 9-19-1 Perham volleyball teams that both got bounced in the second round. She was also on last year’s basketball team that went 2-23. Scheidecker has seen the spotlight shine on others. Leading the volleyball team with 210 kills, 22 service aces and 475 digs, it’s now on her.

“When it comes to Perham, there’s high expectations when it comes to sports,” Scheidecker said. “It wasn’t a disappointment, but I just wished we could have done a little bit better than what we were. Having everyone coming to our games now is just new. We love every minute of it.”

Perham seniors Alli Christenson, left, and Tina Scheidecker. David Samson/Forum News Service

There are three other seniors, along with Scheidecker, who have played on the team since they were sophomores. Tina Schmitz is second on the team with 408 digs, Analea Erickson has 103 kills, 78 digs and 43 blocks and Allie Christenson leads the team with 404 assists.

“I couldn’t have imagined being at this point my sophomore year,” Christenson said. “In the past, Perham used to go to state every single year and then it stopped happening. We really wanted to start that up again. It really is unbelievable and we’re putting in work every day to hopefully get back to the state tournament.”

There was a gut check after the fourth game of the season that may have been an early hint that this Perham team was different. Perham lost its opening game of the Southwest Minnesota Challenge tournament in Marshall, where it won just one game last season.

“That tournament is probably the toughest in the tri-state area,” Moser said. “Our seniors didn’t quite know how to lead and our sophomores came out very, very scared. In the past, we’ve played down to the team we play. We wanted to establish that we’d walk on the court and we’d play a faceless opponent.”

Perham won its remaining four matches of the tournament, all of which were against teams in a higher class, and have won 20 of 21 since.

From 1989 to 1998, Perham volleyball went to state six times. The Yellowjackets haven’t been back since.

First things first for Perham. Tuesday’s match against Hawley will determine the Heart O’ Lakes Conference champion, something Perham hasn’t been since 2008.

“We never dreamed of having this great of a senior year,” Scheidecker said. “(We) four seniors have been playing since we were sophomores. We were all right the last two years, but to have this dream season is just great.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548

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