“Good things come to those who wait” is a phrase that has been used for centuries, and the wait has been five years for the Langdon-Edmore-Munich Cardinals volleyball team. But after knocking on the door for four straight years, the fifth time was the charm. They became the champs by winning the 2019 State B Volleyball Tournament title held at the Fargodome on November 21-23. And they didn’t just knock the door down, they disintegrated it, dominating Flasher, Minot Our Redeemer’s and Oakes on their way to the championship trophy, finishing with a 40-3 won-loss record. In a feat that has been done one other time in Class B history, the Cardinals have now won both a football and volleyball title in the same season (Thompson did it last year).
By Jake Kulland
To get this all done, the Lady Cards had to make a few moves during the season to get the team rolling. Head Coach Rich Olson said, “Late in the first half of the season we switched from a ‘6-2’ offense (two setters) to a ‘5-1’ (one setter). That seemed to energize the whole team.”
A key moment midway through the year saw the Cardinals come back to beat Carrington at a tournament there on October 12. From then on, Langdon-Edmore-Munich just seemed to get progressively better with each match, culminating in the fourth state win in program history to go with teams from 2003, 2008 and 2010. The Lady Cards also did this in their State B record 20th state tournament appearance.
The team captains this year for the Cards were seniors Calyn Crockett and Callie Ronningen and junior Lexi Olson. Ronningen, who is now a three time all-state player for the Lady Cards and also made the All-Tournament team in Fargo, said on finally winning a championship, “It feels great, the past few years we’ve come up short. We all had a very special feeling this year when we came to state that this was the year we would get it done, and it came true, we were right.” On what turned things around this season, she said, “Honestly, I think our losses helped us. We learned something after every single loss we had, knowing we could do better than this. We came to practice with that same energy and just wanted to get better after every loss.”
Crockett has overcome a lot this season, from recovering from a torn knee ligament early in the 2018 season to learning how to play setter for the first time this season. On the injury, Calyn said, “It didn’t bother me all year, it feels great.” On winning the title, she said, “It’s crazy that we finally got it done. It feels awesome.” And on learning the setter position? “Coaches always say that anyone who plays volleyball should know how to set. So I just kept working at it, and my coaches and teammates believed in me.”
Lexi Olson, who was named to the All-Tournament team along with Ronningen and sophomore Morgan Freije, also was named to the Class B All-State team for the first time in her career. On the season leading up to the title, Lexi said, “It’s been exciting. I think we definitely grew as a team as the season went along. Our chemistry on the court wasn’t great to start the year, but we made the right changes and things really came together.” About the experience of winning the title in such convincing fashion, she said, “It was an amazing experience. The crowd was loud, and we really feed off that energy.”
Coach Olson wrapped up the season by saying, “This group has been so fun to coach. They are so driven to be the best team they possibly could be; they come to practice with the right attitude. They grind it out everyday, and I’m so happy they finally got a state title.”
Seniors Ronningen, Crockett, Kaitlynn Scherr, Brooke Bakke and McKenna Belle will finish their great careers with a state title, which for an athlete there is no better feeling in the world. Ronningen said, “We thank everyone who supported us in every way throughout the season. A special shout out to our student section and all our fans who were fantastic cheering us on at the state tournament. It meant a lot, and our whole team appreciates you all.”
As Tom Petty said, “the Waiting is the hardest part”, but the Lady Cards will all tell you, the wait was well worth it. Like the football team, they bring back a nice nucleus of talent to make another run at a state title next year.