Volleyball: Mandan’s versatility could lead them back to state

Local Sports

The Mandan Braves are one of the contenders at the top of the WDA, a volleyball program built on just getting the job done, no matter what it takes.

Sitting at 2-1, the Mandan Braves are looking for all the opportunities to prove they can make it back to state, a team with a bunch of young talent that has to step up in contributing roles.

“They’re just as good as what we had last year,” says Sydney Gustavsson. “And with that, I mean, they can hit anywhere you want, they got a great back row this year and they know what’s going to have to be filled from last year.”

Where the Braves feel they differ is how they can mix and match lineups more than any other team in the league, a sign of how smart they can be at the sport of volleyball.

“We have some really versatile kids,” says head coach Anna Folk. “Our back row can play front row, our front row can play really great back row. They’re all committed to whatever for the team right now. ‘I’ll do whatever, I’ll play whatever position.”

“I think we’re a really, really smart team,” Taylor Leingang says. “I think we play really well together as a team and when games come close, it’ll really come down to making smart plays and knowing where to put the ball.”

Diving straight into a challenging WDA schedule, practices will have that game day feel all season.

“We have to push each other to the max and try different things,” says Folk. “And just kind of going with the flow but also giving it all.”

As for that return trip to the state tournament, it’s not just about making it there, its about winning the whole thing for these Braves, a possible first-ever title in their program history.

“I think it’s going to come down to grit, perseverance, and teamwork and hard work,” Leingang says. “I think in the gym if we’re getting at it in the gym every day wanting to make each other better and really knowing what the angle is, we’re going to make it far this year.”

Mandan is back in action Thursday when they host Minot.

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