Familiar Opponents: No. 4 seed Beulah, No. 2 seed Dickinson Trinity meet for Region 7 title for 3rd straight year
Despite all the parity around the Region 7 volleyball and its tournament this season, two familiar teams are meeting in the championship game — Beulah and Dickinson Trinity.
It’s the third consecutive year the Miners and Titans will vie for the title and a trip to next week’s Class B state tournament at about 8 p.m. today at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
No. 4 seed Beulah and No. 2 seed Trinity have each collected a win in the two previous title matches.
“It’s one of those rivalries that just seems to bring out the best in both teams, regardless of what the situation is,” Beulah head coach Kevin Peterson said. “Each team has respect for one another, but at the end of the day both sides want to put up that W.”
Trinity head coach Rayma Braaten added: “All I want from my team is to play our game. As long as we play our game — win or lose — I’ll be happy. Coming into a game like this there is a lot of anxiety, but it is good to be anxious. It is not good to be complacent.”
In their previous two title matches, the Miners and Titans have used different core to come out on top.
Beulah used the efforts of Meghan Battest and a pair of 6-foot-2 middle hitters — Anna Iverson and Kaycee Link — with win the Region 7 championship in 2011.
Last year, the Titans were fueled by outside hitter Alyson Schieno, currently freshman on the Dickinson State volleyball team. In last year’s title match, Schieno finished with team highs of 25 kills and 32 digs, including the match-winning tip.
Though Schieno tipped in the match-winner, a majority of the players from both teams returned this season. Eighteen to be exact — 10 from Beulah and eight from Trinity.
“There’s experience as you learn from throughout the course of the season and then there’s experience where the kids have been through the fires and know exactly what to expect as far as emotions, crowds and so on,” Peterson said. “Both teams have a lot of that second type where they have logged a lot of points, sets and matches throughout the last two years. (Tonight) you are going to see two teams that are ready to go.”
Trinity senior outside hitter Katelyn Grinsteinner added: “It’s definitely exciting. We know there is going to be a lot of intensity. We know both teams are going to come out hard, because we both want it. We just have to come, have fun and play our game.”
In this season’s Region 7 Tournament, Beulah’s top two kill leaders are junior outside hitters Jaime Murschel and Delaney Johansen. Murschel has 39 kills in two matches while Johansen has added 24. Beulah senior setter Lakin Kessler has dished out 71 assists.
The Titans have a trio of hitters who have put up solid numbers in their first two matches. Sophomore outside hitter Kennedy Keator leads the team with 24 kills, Grinsteinner has supplied 19 and senior middle hitter Gretchen Weir has 17, including a barrage in the final two sets of a five-set victory over New England in the semifinals Tuesday. Trinity junior setter Katie Dockter posted 62 assists.
Because Region 7 moved to the super-regional setup this season, Beulah and Trinity have only played once. The lone match between the two teams ended with the Titans taking a sweep over the Miners on Oct. 1.
“That match means nothing because you can’t look into a regular-season game and think that the outcome you had that game is going to affect the outcome in a championship game,” Braaten said. “All I can do is trust my team and be positive.”
Each team has felt it has grown by leaps and bounds throughout the season — especially Beulah, which dealt with injuries and illness throughout the season.
Kessler said the team is confident entering the Region 7 title game.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve started to put things together and we are starting to show our true potential right now,” Kessler said.
Trinity, which hasn’t dealt with many injuries or illness, is feeling just as confident heading into today’s match eyeing a repeat trip to the Minot State Dome and the Class B state tournament.
“We’ve worked hard all season and we trust each other,” Grinsteinner said. “We just have to give it our all.”