The Mandan Braves are poised to make a return trip to the state tournament. After ripping off three straight wins in the conference, Mandan hopes to ride that momentum as they enter a tough stretch in their schedule.
It’s a win-now mentality for the Braves. A large senior class, and maybe their deepest team in a long time enters the 2021 season.
“I think this year, we really have a lot of different players that can contribute, that can hit all shots pretty much in every position that you put them in,” says head coach Anna Folk. “We still have a pretty good defense that we will rely on. But I think we have some surprisingly strong offensive players.”
Mandan is buoyed once again by defensive specialist Piper Harris, a player that has been consistent in a backline that has always been the Braves’ strength.
“Having Piper, having Faith Eberle in the back row to kind of take care of every ball that is going to come at them, whether it’s defense or serve receive, we can create more offense by those guys being a lot more consistent,” says Folk.
“Faith playing with me in the back row, we do a good job talking,” says senior Piper Harris. “On serves, if one of us makes a mistake, we’re good at adjusting to it right away and saying that I got that one, you take this seam, stuff like that.”
On the flip side, this Braves team can hit. After an opening day loss to Bismarck, Mandan has ripped off 60 plus kills in two games, but it’s more than the stats that these players want fans to recognize.
“How we work together I guess,” says senior LaReena Mosbrucker. “Because we really built a good team here and we’re really connecting with each other and hopefully they take away some of that positive energy.”
Mandan wants to return to the state tournament, but with the championship playing out closer to home, making the dance will mean a whole lot more.
“A couple of bumps in the road for the first few weeks,” says Folk. “Just finding our own feet, finding our own identity. But I don’t doubt that this team has full capabilities of being in that state tournament high-level match on that last Saturday too.”
The Mandan Braves travel on the road for a tough test with the Jamestown Blue Jays tomorrow night.