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Mighty Midgets fall

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson High seniors Ali Moody and Rachel Schroeder, right, leap to try and block an attack by a Bismarck High player on Tuesday night during a West Region volleyball match at the DHS gymnasium. Dickinson wore black uniforms with pink numbers and accents and the teams played with a pink-striped ball for their "Pink Out" night, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Throughout its first seven matches in the West Region, the Dickinson High volleyball team was breezing past opponents -- many of them with ease.

Bismarck High, on the other hand, had a little surprise for the Midgets. Senior Naomi Rust returned Tuesday night after a three-week hiatus due to injury.

The Demons were glad to have Rust back as she was instrumental in them handing the Midgets their first West Region loss, 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-9 at the DHS gymnasium.

"It's not fun to lose," Dickinson senior middle hitter Rachel Schroeder said. "People come and start expecting you to win because you've been undefeated for seven games out of the year. They expect you to win No. 8 and No. 9."

The Midgets (15-5, 7-1 West) squeaked out an opening-set win.

It was the second set that Dickinson head coach Jay Schobinger said was the turning point in the match.

"They just took the momentum and went with it," he said. "We stole set one and set two we missed four serves early. That kind of gave them some momentum."

The first and second sets were both point-for-point battles. The Midgets maintained composure in the opening set, but the Demons taking control in the second.

After a Natalee Todd kill and an Alison Fischer ace, Bismarck grabbed a 21-18 lead in the second set. Todd posted six kills while Fischer added four aces.

Rust, who had 11 kills and two blocks, supplied two of the final three points for the Demons. McKenzie Kiefer ended the set on an ace. Kiefer had 45 assists, eight digs and two aces.

Ashlee Hilzendeger had an all-around performance with 13 kills, nine digs and two aces.

"They (Hilzendeger and Rust) are huge contributors and they are smart volleyball players," Bismarck head coach Jessica Nichols said. "They know where the ball is and what they need to do. They don't swing aggressively every time, because they know the court so well."

After the second set, the Demons (13-7, 6-3 West) didn't have too many blemishes. They were able to attack and play solid defense. Schroeder, who had seven kills, two aces and two blocks, said the loss should teach the Midgets not to take anyone in the state for granted.

"We just have to learn that we can't walk on the floor and get a win," she said. "You have to work for it. We just have to remember that we have to compete in order to win."

Bismarck grabbed a third-set lead 23-18 and Rust continued to show her dominance on the court, striking down a set-ending kill.

Nichols and Schroeder each talked about the tough blocking efforts by the Demons.

"Our blockers did a tremendous job knowing where their attackers were and making sure we were on them all the time," Nichols said.

"They got a lot of touches on defense," Schroeder added. "They're blocks were big. It just threw us off that a hit wasn't a kill. We had to play defense too."

In the final set, the Demons took a 15-6 lead and ran away to finish off the match in four sets.

Abby Grove led the Midgets with 13 kills and 16 digs.

The Midgets are now at the halfway point in the season and travel to the two-day Fargo Tournament that begins Friday.

Schobinger hopes this match was a valuable experience for the remainder of the season.

"Number one, you have to learn to dig deep and get after it," he said. "It's easy to play the game, when things are going well. It's tough to play when things aren't going your way. We just need to use it as a growing up lesson."

Bismarck 22 25 25 25 -- 3

Dickinson 25 21 19 9 -- 1

Kills: B, Ashlee Hilzendeger 13, Naomi Rust 11, Natalee Todd 6, Morgan Miller 4. D, Abby Grove 13, Rachel Schroeder 7, Hanna Beaudoin 7.

Blocks: B, Rust 2, Miller 2, Hilzendeger 1, Todd 1, Estee Schmidt 1. D, Schroeder 2, Sidney Gangl 1, Sierra Rohr 1.

Aces: B, Alison Fischer 4, Caitlyn Carlson 3, Miller 2, Hilzendeger 2, McKenzie Kiefer 2. D, Schroeder 2.

Digs: B, Karli Sanders 10, Hilzendeger 9, Miller 9, Kiefer 8. D, Grove 16, Ali Moody 15, Mackee Hoffmann 8.

Assists: B, Kiefer 45. D, Moody 31.

Records: B 13-7, 6-3 West. D 15-5, 7-1 West.