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Press Photo by Royal McGregor 
Dickinson State senior setter Kelly O'Connor, middle right, and freshman middle hitter Kate Golding, right, go up for a block against Westminster (Utah) College's Alexis Aalona, left, and Andrea Christensen during a Frontier Conference match on Thursday at Scott Gymnasium. The Griffins defeated the Blue Hawks 3-1.
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State senior setter Kelly O'Connor, middle right, and freshman middle hitter Kate Golding, right, go up for a block against Westminster (Utah) College's Alexis Aalona, left, and Andrea Christensen during a Frontier Conference match on Thursday at Scott Gymnasium. The Griffins defeated the Blue Hawks 3-1.

Griffins fight past DSU: Westminster College wins battle against Blue Hawks in Frontier Conference match

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Blue Hawks Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

The Dickinson State volleyball team's performance was nothing short of a roller coaster ride.

What started out as a match with all the potential to turn into a win against Westminster College (Utah) quickly got away from the Blue Hawks and turned into a 25-13, 22-25, 25-15, 25-15 win for the Griffins on Thursday at Scott Gymnasium.

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DSU head coach Jon Stenman said the key for his team to beat Westminster was in serve receive, which happened in set two.

The Blue Hawks scored ten points off their serve, which lead to their first Frontier Conference set win of the season. DSU was energetic, played smart and was athletic in its scoring like hitting into blocks.

With Westminster leading 21-20, DSU senior outside hitter Melissa Avila and freshman middle hitter Whitney Weidow blocked junior middle blocker Mayra Ramirez, one of the hard hitters for the Griffins, for the tying point.

However, in set three the Blue Hawks only scored one point off their serve and collapsed from there.

"The second set, we definitely played together, everyone was on the same page, we knew what we needed to do," Avila said. "We were putting balls in good spots. We were serving tougher, hitting tougher and we played smarter in that second set. It's one of those things where we just have to carry it on to the rest."

Ramirez and junior outside hitter Alexia Aalona gave DSU problems all night. Aalona led her team in kills with 11, Ramirez right behind her with 10, as well as contributing two assists and 20 digs.

DSU scored 18 points off their serve receive, but Westminster dominated and scored 14 in the first set, 11 in the second, nine in the third and 16 in the fourth. In the final set, DSU kept it close early in the game, but the Griffins went on an eight-point run and the Blue Hawks struggling to keep up.

"We just had too much inconsistent play tonight to be much of a threat," Stenman said. "It was good to pick up the first set we won in conference, but I don't know what happened to the team that won that set. They won that set and disappeared. We kind of fought in game three late, but it was over by then."

Senior setter Kelly O'Connor added: "I felt like we were trying so hard we were hurting ourselves, when you try and try and try too hard and are over thinking, that's what really happened to us. It definitely isn't a lack of effort or a lack of knowledge and not that we don't want to win. We wanted to win so bad that we forced the issue instead of being relaxed and play and that's when we are at our best."

For the Blue Hawks, O'Connor had 20 assists, nine digs and two kills while junior libero Natasha Malana had the team-high 20 digs. Avila, who really impressed Westminster head coach Kim Norman, recorded 17 kills, 11 digs and a block.

"(Avila) is just a wonderful player and so fun to watch," Norman said. "I told her as we came through, she really sparks your team ... I just love to watch her play, she does some really nice stuff for volleyball."

The Blue Hawks have a quick turnaround hosting Montana Western, a team who is also looking for its first conference win, at 7 p.m. today. If anything, to Stenman and his team, this is the most important game of the year. Stenman said DSU has a fighting chance, if they can play like they did in the second game of Thursday's match.

"Somebody's going to win a conference game, has to happen," Stenman said. "We win the serve receive battle, we beat Western. If we serve well and pass well, we beat them tomorrow. If we pass like we did the majority of tonight and don't score off our serve, they beat us. It all comes down to it."

WC 25 23 25 25 -- 3

DSU 13 25 15 15 -- 1

Kills: WC, Alexis Aalona 11, Mayra Ramirez 10, A. Horton 8, J. Sisovic 7, K. Vance 5. DSu, Melissa Avila 17, Linaya Schroeder 3, Whitney Weidow 3, Maggie Rauser 3, Kelly O'Connor 2, Aly Schieno 2.

Blocks: EC, Vance 1, Aalona 1, Horton1. DSU, Avila 1, O'Connor 2, Kate Golding 1.

Aces: WC, c. Fenton2, J. Chellsen 1, E. Atkinson 1. DSU, Rauser 1, O'Connor 1.

Digs: WC, Aalona 20, K. Kordakis 12, Chellsen 6, Horton 5, Atkinson 4, Fenton 4. DSU, Malana 20, Avila 11, O'Connor 9, Justine Braunagel 7, Morgan Lutz 5, Jenifer Huebner 3, Schroeder 1.

Assists: WC, Atkinson 43, Fenton 4, M. Raines 3, Aalona 2, Horton 1, Kordakia 1. DSU, O'Connor 20, Lutz 2, Malana 1, Schieno 1.

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