DEVILS LAKE – Eight teams. Four games. Many goals still to be achieved. Countless memories to write. A winner when the dust settles at the end.
The 2021-2022 NDHSAA Region 4 Volleyball Tournament officially kicked off on November 8 at Devils Lake High School, and if the results of the first four games of play are any indicator, volleyball fans will be delighted with the action to come. Here is the result of each match.
(# 1) North Star vs. (# 8) Dunseith:
Final score: 3-0 North Star
Series 1: 25-8
Series 2: 25-9
Series 3: 25-9
In short :
The Bearcats were looking to start their potentially long playoff campaign on a high note. Luckily for North Star, they went for the highest note on the musical scale (figuratively and probably literally) possible by sweeping the Dragons in straight sets.
Outside the tournament, the Bearcats (22-0) remain unbeaten for the season. Dating back to the 2018-19 season, the Bearcats have won all seven games against the Dragons (excluding tournament). The seven matches were also a sweep. With the loss, the Dragons were eliminated from the Region 4 tournament.
“I think we made a statement,” North Star head coach Aubree Page said after the game. “This is what we wanted to do. We wanted to come out strong and dominate, and I think we did it well.
North Star center hitter Danielle Hagler set the tone early on as the senior compiled three of North Star’s first four kills in the first set. North Star’s ability to control the midfield and find enough precision on peripheral shots allowed him to control the game from start to finish.
In the end, that was all North Star needed to create enough tempo and generate enough velocity to give them the victory in the first round.
(# 4) Benson County vs. (# 5) Harvey / Wells County:
Final score: 3-1 Benson County
Series 1: 26-24 Harvey / Wells County
Series 2: 25-22 Benson County
Series 3: 25-18 Benson County
Series 4: 25-18 Benson County
In short :
A 26-24 one-set victory in favor of the Hornets underscored how much of a game of chance this game was for casuals and experts alike. However, Benson County won three straight sets and earned their first region opener since November 11, 2019 over New-Rockford Sheyenne (Benson County’s region opener win over Rolla on November 10, 2020, was by package).
Benson County’s path to success did not come in the form of a fastpitch, but a soft change of serve.
Led by senior center hitter Desidy Schwanke and junior center hitter Jaylen Anderson, the Wildcats used more point shots to generate kills. When they combined that adjustment with improved balance, the Wildcats took off.
“We came out dead and nervous in the first set,” Benson County head coach Bridget Geller said after the game. “I told them, you have to come in and relax. Some of you are seniors, and I don’t think you wanted this to be your last game. Settle in. ”
Benson County’s adjustment didn’t end on the offensive side. The Wildcats blocked the middle portion of the net to carry Harvey / Wells County’s front row to the defensive end.
These block keys turned out to be a difference factor.
“They were huge,” Geller said. “We’ve been working on this all week. Different scenarios that I set up against the girls. Just touch it, get your hands on it, slow the ball down and we’ll do it. These girls stepped up tonight. Jaylen Anderson had one hell of a game, and it was probably the best game she’s had all year. She was on the net blocking and hitting well. She stepped up when she needed to step up. Ashlyn had critical blockages. Desidy (Schwanke) got a little nervous at first, and once she settled down too, she played well. It was good teamwork. ”
(# 2) Langdon / Edmore / Munich vs. (# 7) Nelson County:
Final score: 3-0 Langdon / Edmore / Munich
Series 1: 25-8
Series 2: 25-12
Series 3: 25-17
In short :
Prior to the Region 4 tournament, the (# 2) Langdon / Edmore / Munich Cardinals had a reputation they needed to maintain. That reputation, of course, revolved around the team’s success in previous Region 4 tournaments. Dating back to the 2015-16 season, the Cardinals have won each of the last six tournaments. The last time the Cardinals lost in the tournament’s first round was November 11, 2013 (3-2 to Carrington).
While upset was almost certainly a possibility, the Cardinals quelled any thought with their convincing 3-0 win over (# 7) Nelson County. With the win, the Cardinals are now 3-0 against Nelson County since Lakota and Dakota Prairie merged ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Even though the Cardinals were on the wrong side of a two-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 28 (3-0 loss to Northern Cass), the team recognized their strength in the area of passing and hitting. The balanced philosophy on both sides of the ball inevitably gave the Cardinals enough cushion to lean on the Chargers after a convincing 25-8 one-set win.
Heading into the game, the Cardinals kept it basic – they played their style of play with confidence.
“We didn’t do much,” Langdon / Edmore / Munich head coach Rich Olson said after the game. “We just watched the movie and saw that we needed to play better. We had to serve better and pass better, and we made better decisions. We didn’t go there and reinvent the wheel or anything or make any major adjustments because that would have been an overreaction. We went out tonight and played volleyball with confidence, and that’s what you need to do.
(# 3) New Rockford-Sheyenne vs. (# 6) Rolla:
Final score: 3-1 New Rockford-Sheyenne
Series 1: 25-19 New Rockford-Sheyenne
Set 2: 25-18 New Rockford-Sheyenne
Series 3: 25-21 Rolla
Series 4: 25-13 New Rockford-Sheyenne
In short :
New Rockford-Sheyenne certainly got off to a good start. The Rockets’ x-factor, however, was on the closing side of the coin. It was revealed once again on Monday night as the sixth-seeded Bulldogs won each of the last four points on a three-innings back and forth to maintain their playoff hopes.
However, New Rockford-Sheyenne decided to go back to their roots.
Those roots, of course, referred to Kelsie Belquist and Mya Cudworth, who collectively established New Rockford-Sheyenne’s presence outside the net.
“We have gained momentum,” New Rockford-Sheyenne head coach Sara Myhre said after the game. “I think their confidence was there. In the second set you could see their confidence drop a bit with the mistakes, but we took it back and got the confidence and momentum back, and I think that really helped.
The Rockets have won each of their last five games in the first round of the Region 4 tournament dating back to the 2017-18 season.