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Rocky sweeps past Blue Hawks

Press Photo by Meghan MacDonald Dickinson State freshman middle hitter Whitney Weidow, left, goes up for an attack against Rocky Mountain's Mariah Stiffarm during a Frontier Conference game on Saturday at Scott Gymnasium.

The Dickinson State volleyball team finally played their home opener Saturday night at Scott Gymnasium.

The gym was packed with fans and student athletes, bringing an electric intensity that helped fire up the team.

Perhaps a little too much.

The Blue Hawks lost in straight sets 25-14, 25-17, 25-12 to the No. 25 ranked Rocky Mountain College. Seniors Melissa Avila and Kelly O'Connor think that the atmosphere and the experience of finally being home made the younger girls a little too nervous and unfocused.

"It was the first conference game, first home-game jitters just our crowd was loud and I think for the younger girls it kind of got to them," Avila said. "They were kind of nervous and I know some of them were nervous before going in and I think just being home an overwhelming feeling just took toll. But we had moments where you could see things connecting a pass to a set to a hit they were great moments that we had it's just taking those moments and continually stringing them together."

O'Connor added: "I think we let our youth get the best of us. We were big eyed a lot but it'll get better. I have full faith it'll get better."

The Bears are No. 25 in the nation for a reason and it was evident Saturday night. Besides having the height advantage, Rocky Mountain was consistent and capitalized on every scoring chance they came across throughout the match. Junior middle blocker Anna Dewald led the Bears with 11 kills on the night and also contributed an assist, four digs and two blocks. Sophomore setter Tori Bertsch also had a good night for rocky Mountain, recording 13 assists and four digs, as having the team-high with two aces.

Besides the crowd being a distraction, DSU first-year head coach Jon Stenman said that his team was mentally flustered and everything they practiced this past week to prepare was thrown out the window.

"We are going to win and lose depending on how we do mentally," Stenman said. "The thing that I'm most disappointed about is that we didn't follow our game plan. We kind of lost everything we practiced like going to the deep corners, taking advantage of the deep split and block. We went down to the locker room and went through the checklist. Did we do this? No, not really. Did we do that? No, not really. We didn't execute well enough."

The team overall didn't hit positively -- the only two players were Avila and freshman Kate Golding. Avila had 13 total kills, nine digs and a block and Golding had two kills, two digs and four blocks. Although the team didn't hit well in the match, DSU's ability to dig balls caught the attention of Rocky Mountain's head coach Laurie Kelly and forced her team to make adjustments through the match.

"I have to give a lot of credit to Dickinson they dug us up," Kelly said. "We have some pretty potent hitters and we kept hitting and they kept digging us so we had to reevaluate what we're going to do with our offense because Dickinson did a really great job digging."

With their first conference game under their belt, the Blue Hawks now look forward to their next game on Friday against University of Great Falls in the Scott Gymnasium at 7 p.m. Stenman said that he will take a look at the Great Falls film today and begin to execute a game plan to attack the 4-9 Lady Argos.

"We have great falls next Friday, which is great that we have a week to prepare," Stenman said. "I'm really looking forward to those four days of practice so we can hopefully follow through on our game plan. That's our goal for next week ... Hopefully by Friday they'll have it drilled into their heads so they'll have no problems executing."

RMC 25 25 25 -- 3

DSU 14 17 12 -- 0

Kills: RMC, Anna Dewald 11, Ahlea Billis 9, Jayde hair 6, Mariah Stiffarm 6, Brooke Myers 1, Jennifer Donaldson 1, Elli Hellerud 1, Jorden Porter 1, Kylie Nielson 1. DSU, Melissa Avila 13, Maggie Rauser 4, Kate Golding 2, Meghan Myer 1, Kelly O'Connor 1, Jenifer Huebner 1.

Blocks: RMC, Billis 2, Dewald 2, Stiffarm 2, hair 1. DSU, Golding 4, Meyer 2, Avila 1, Whitney Weidow 1.

Aces: RMC, Tori Bertsch 2, Billis 1, Myers 1, Porter 1, Kacie Stone 1. DSU, Huebner 1.

Digs: RMC, Donaldson 17, Myers 10, Sky Gabel 9, Billis 4, Bertsch 4, Dewald 4, Stiffarm 2, Nielson 2, Porter 1, Hellerud 1. DSU, Natasha Malana 12, O'Connor 10, Avila 9, Huebner 5, Golding 2, Weidow 2, Meyer 1, Rauser 1, Aly Schieno 1, Justine Braunagel 1.

Assists: RMC, Bertsch 13, Gabel 8, Stiffarm 3, Brieanna Geck 3, Hair 2, Billis 2, Dewald 1, Donaldson 1, Malaka McDonough 1, Nielson 1. DSU, O'Connor 19, Meyer 1, Avila 1, Malana 1.

Records: RMC 9-2, DSU 0-9

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.