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Blue Hawks beat Saints for 1st home win

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State senior outside hitter Linaya Schroeder, left, hits against a pair of Presentation College defenders on Friday at Scott Gymnasium.

Clad in pink and literally wearing a hard hat on the sidelines, the Dickinson State volleyball team finally brought home a victory for its fans Friday night in the Scott Gymnasium.

The Blue Hawks got their revenge win against Presentation College 25-20, 25-12, 25-16 and played their best all-around game this season.

"It's definitely the way you want to play when you're at home," setter Kelly O'Connor said. "We had lots of energy, we didn't make many mistakes, we were pretty efficient tonight."

After a lackluster loss at the University of Great Falls on Oct. 4 -- their lowest point of the season -- the team realized that nothing would be handed to them easily. From that moment on, the Blue Hawks adopted a blue collar 'bring you hard hat to work' mentality and since there has been a huge change in their attitude and mindset on and off the court. Stenman even bought his team an actual hard hat Wednesday for the reminder to set in.

"While the girls are on the bench they'll put it on and it's a positive reminder that we have to work for everything we have," O'Connor said. "It's been a good visual for us."

Stenman added: "I'm so proud of the girls right now. We did exactly what we said we were going to. This time we walked the walk instead of just talking the talk. We definitely felt we were a different team when we played them a month ago and we are. We said if we can play the blue collar, bring your hard hat and lunch pail we knew we could be successful and we did that."

Each week, Stenman repeated himself saying the team needs to work on the same fundamentals: be efficient on offense, pass better, put balls away and play smarter. His team finally answered the call and was very efficient on offense. The Blue Hawks adjusted to Presentation's offense and kept the pressure on the Saints, making it difficult for them to function in system in each set. When Presentation was on a point run throughout the match, DSU responded immediately with one of its own, maintaining its lead in each set.

"I thought our passing was fantastic tonight, some of the best all year and when we pass, we give ourselves a chance to put the ball away," Stenman said. "Our offense is getting smarter, where we're not giving them easy balls to play."

O'Connor and outside hitter Melissa Avila had strong nights as usual. Avila had 12 kills and six digs, while O'Connor recorded eight kills, 12 assists, five aces, nine digs and three blocks. Although the two stood out statistically, both seniors agreed Friday's performance was a team effort and the underclassmen are finally coming into their own. Freshman middle Kate Golding had her best blocking night of the season and was reaching over the net more and got more touches, while freshman middle Maggie Rauser finished with no hitting errors and created opportunities for her and for the rest of the team.

"We're finally meshing as a team and our younger players aren't young anymore they're not star struck every time they hit the floor," O'Connor said. "They're stepping up, they're doing their job, they're meeting our expectations."

Avila added: "They're playing college volleyball they're out of their high school comfort zone and their comforted with us now."

Today, the Blue Hawks are back in action at home, hosting Montana Tech at 2 p.m. Stenman and his team hope that the newly earned confidence can help motivate his team to avenge their reputation and show Tech what they are capable of.

"Winning tonight was paramount to hopefully get our season going in another direction, that's going to give us confidence going into Tech," Stenman said. "Presentation was revenge one, Tech is revenge No. 2. Because we know how poorly we played up there ... If we can play like tonight, we will give ourselves an excellent chance of winning."

P 20 12 16 -- 0

DSU 25 25 25 -- 3

Kills: P, Megan Goedert 9, Karly Fuhrman 5, Mo Bunney 4, Randi Wales 3, Tessa Adelmann 3, Haley Boisjolie 2. DSU, Melissa Avila 12, Kelly O'Connnor 8, Linaya Schroeder 4, Maggie Rauser 2, Whitney Weidow 1.

Blocks: P, Goedert 1, Adelmann 1. DSU, O'Connor 3, Kate Golding 3, Rauser 1, Weidow 1.

Aces: P, Bunney 1, Fuhrman 1. DSU, O'Connor 5, Tasha Malana 2, Morgan Lutz 2.

Digs: P, Boisjolie 11, Alyssa Jung 9, Bunney 3, Carly Peterson 3, Fuhrman 3, Adelmann 2, Kayla Green 2, Wales 1. Indira Raub 1, Goedert 1. DSU, O'Connor 9, Avila 6, Malana 5, Weidow 3, Justine Braunagel 3, Rauser 2, Lutz 1, Schroeder 1.

Assists: P, Bunney 13, Peterson 11. DSU, O'Connor 12, Lutz 9, Malana 1, Braunagel 1.

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.