UNDERWOOD, N.D. — The Central McLean Cougars are in the midst of their best season as a co-op. In just their third year together, the Cougars have become a mainstay in the Class B volleyball polls.

With eight wins in their last nine matches, Central McLean has been ranked as high as fourth in the class with an overall record of 22-4. This breakout season showcases the growth of a young program that is on the rise.

“Our first year was a lot of learning,” head coach Whitney Jangula says. “It was bringing two completely different coaching styles together, so a lot of new. So, we knew we had a lot of learning curves there. And then last year, we took a hold of why we do what we do in the gym. They bought in to the culture. Really went out with a mentality of we’re going to stick through it together, thick and thing. That what we kind of ride or die on is that we’re a family.”

“We had a rough first seas as a co-op and last year it was better, but we didn’t quite get to where we wanted to be,” senior Anna Skachenko adds. “This season started off really strong and really good, so we’re really excited that success going forward.”

After graduating seven seniors following the 2022 season, the Cougars were looking for players to step up, and in offseason workouts, the athletes were ready for the challenge.

“We had a lot of leaders last year that kind of taught the youngers girls to buy into it and success will come,” Jangula says. “This group of girls, they’ve taken a hold of it from offseason to preseason to now, rolling into postseason. That family mentality is something we hold strong and they definitely have that. And their work ethic is fantastic.”

“I think most of our younger girls, they wanted to play up,” junior Adlyn Eng adds. “They knew we needed people to step up, and they did a really good job doing that. I think just having a really good bond between the girls also helped because we get along really well.”

Central McLean is back in action at home on Thursday against Harvey/Wells County. First serve is set for 4 central time.