By Esme Murphy

By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

WADENA, Minn. (WCCO) — Five months ago, a tornado devastated the Wadena Deer Creek area and destroyed the high school. But Thursday night, some of the kids from that school will try to make a different kind of noise, and win a state championship.

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Twenty-four teams are playing in this week’s state volleyball tournament in three different classes. And every one of them has an interesting story. However, the story behind Wadena players, waiting to take the court in the last game of the night, is particularly emotional.

Wadena Deer Creek High School was literally blown away by an EF4 tornado back on June 17. It also destroyed the volleyball coach’s farm.

“Well, we really don’t have anything left. I mean, it took the whole, all of the buildings, the silos, the house. Everything was completely demolished,” said Coach Sue Volkmann.

Now, Sue Volkmann and her family are renting. They’ll decide whether to rebuild after the season.

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She has two daughters on the team, but says the rest of the group has always felt like family as well.

“This team is really close. They’ve grown up together, they’re really, really close as a team, and they’ve always been there for each other, and they kind of went through it as a group,” said Volkmann.

In fact, Volkmann says the kids coped with the tornado by playing volleyball — the one thing that felt normal.

And now, for the third straight year, they’re in St. Paul, thinking about a title instead of a tornado.

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“We’ve all been through a lot and stay focused through all this, and come out and I hope we can do well this weekend,” said Senior Courtney Volkmann.

Esme Murphy