Linton-HMB volleyball is in a familiar spot in mid-November, on its way to a third straight state tournament, and aiming to win a third straight title.

The Lions are chasing a trophy while other teams chase them.

“Honestly it gives me more motivation to win,” Linton-HMB senior Paige Hulm said. “When people are cheering against me it’s not going to bring me down, it just gives me more motivation to want to win so we can show them as a team that we are good and that’s why we’re ranked high in state.”

This Lions team is much different than years past, and it all starts with four new starters, and a much different rotation.

“We’ve just worked so hard to get to state with the new seniors that we have now, and picking up the roles that the four seniors last year left for us,” senior Gracie Schumacher said.

The Lions know they’ll be tested come tournament time, especially after being pushed to five sets in the region title game, but that’s an experience they feel made this team better.

“We just have to have the faith and the trust in each other every point,” Schumacher explained. “We have to trust that our teammate behind us is going to get that ball, and the teammate beside us is going to encourage us.”

In a year of parity where the state tournament may be more challenging than ever, these Lions aren’t taking the opportunity lightly.

“You cannot look ahead,” Lions’ head coach Jaime Richter emphasize. “I mean you have to go one match at a time, and I think that’s for everyone. I think that the state tournament is up for grabs this year, and I feel that you have to look one match at a time and be ready for each match and look on after that.”

Linton-HMB opens the Class B state tournament on Thursday against New Rockford-Sheyenne.