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Argos drop DSU: University Great Falls gets on a roll, sweeps Blue Hawks

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State senior Kelly O'Connor, left, goes up for a hit over University of Great Falls freshman middle blocker Tiffany Marks during a Frontier Conference match on Friday at Scott Gymnasium. The Argos swept the Blue Hawks in straight sets.

Coming into the season, Dickinson State volleyball head coach Jon Stenman knew it was set up to be a challenge.

But he didn't expect his team to be 0-10.

The University of Great Falls swept the Blue Hawks 25-9, 25-12, 26-24 in a Frontier Conference match on Friday at Scott Gymnasium.

In the first two sets, the team was sluggish and off balance, as if the team wasn't there.

"Just a lackluster performance," Stenman said. "There's no other way to say it. We weren't ready to play."

In both sets, the Argos dominated the court going on four-, five- and six-point runs at a time. For Great Falls, 6-foot-2 Maddison Wilhelm and 6-5 Becky Kershner led the team statistically on the court. Wilhelm had nine kills and nine digs while Kershner recorded eight kills and 18 assists.

The Blue Hawks made simple mistakes, like two players going for a ball and have it fall between them or hit into Great Falls' strengths -- its middle blockers.

"I'm disappointed we didn't come out of the gate with any intensity," Stenman said. "We came out and just, nothing. I can't explain it. As a coach, it's partly my fault that I don't have my team ready to play."

But in the third set, the Blue Hawks looked completely different, alert, intense and driven. With nowhere else to turn, Stenman put together a completely different lineup and ran a 6-2 -- with Kelly O'Connor hitting in the front row, Morgan Lutz in to set across the back row, and Maggie Rauser to hit across the front -- instead of the team's usual 5-1 and things began to click.

The Blue Hawks put up a quick 4-0 lead, their first lead of the match. Volleys were getting longer with every DSU player making desperate dives and leaps across the court to keep the ball in play. Rauser - who racked up four total kills, four assists and two digs - was getting kills by playing smart and simply hitting the ball over Great Falls' libero, Jacey Habets. O'Connor had an impressive game with five kills and four digs, as well as six kills, 13 assists, an ace and 11 digs on the night. She also hit the ball harder and smarter, aiming for deep corners like the team tried to work on in practice all week.

"We finally decided to show up, finally all six people were on the floor," O'Connor said. "There was no flow in the first two sets and there was so much more flow in the third set. We just have to find the flow all the time."

Melissa Avila added: "It hit us that we were going down without a fight and at that point didn't want to let them completely beat us into the ground."

Towards the end of the match, it was back and forth between the Blue Hawks and the Argos each keeping it in within one or two points. But the Argos were able to capitalize on scoring chances and break away from a 24-24 tie and win 26-24.

"We let them set the tone we didn't know how to battle back after that," O'Connor said.

Today, the Blue Hawks get right back into conference play and face Montana State University-Northern at 2 p.m. in the Scott Gym. Stenman said that fans need to get used to seeing that 6-2 formation since it worked so well and that he needs to go back to the drawing board to find some way to get his team out of its funk.

"I'm kind of at a crossroads," Stenman said. "Things that I've done in the past aren't working for this team so I'm going to have to get creative to try and figure out a way to motivate this team. Because when we play with intensity like in the third, set it's a completely different team.

"I told them when you leave the gym today, don't leave the gym pouting, with your chin down or even pissed off. I want you to leave determined. We have a goal that we want to meet and we have to be driven to get it."

Results Great Falls 3, Dickinson State 0


UGF 25 25 26 -- 3

DSU 9 12 24 -- 0

Kills: UGF, Krystal Robinson 9, Maddison Wilhelm 9, Becky Kershner 8, Keva Robinson 4, Tiffany Marks 3, Courtney Godfrey 2, Page Woodward 1, Devon Bogart 1, Brittany Sharpe 1. DSU, Melissa Avila 7, Kelly O'Connor 6, Maggie Rauser 4, Linaya Schroeder 2, Whitney Weidow 2, Tasha Malana 1.

Blocks: UGF, none. DSU, Taylor Weakley 2, Weidow 1.

Aces: UGF, Godfrey 5, Averia Pasma 1, Wilhelm 1, Bogart 1. DSU, O'Connor 1, Malana 1.

Digs: UGF, Wilhelm 9, Godfrey 6, pasma 4, Jacy Habets 3, Mary Allen 2, Robinson 1, Sharpe 1, Gabby Bienkowski 1, Kershner 1. DSU, O'Connor 11, Malana 10, Avila 6, Meghan Meyer 5, Justine Braunagel 3, Schroeder 2, Rauser 2, Jenifer Huebner 2, Aly Schieno 1, Morgan Lutz 1.

Assists: UGF Godfrey 14, Pasma 10, Marks 1, Robinson 1. DSU, O'Connor 13, Lutz 4, Malana 1.

Records: UGF 6-10, DSU 0-10

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.