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Demons overcome slow start, top Midgets

FNS Photo by John M. Steiner Dickinson High senior libero Mackee Hoffmann passes the ball in Thursday’s loss to Bismarck in the West Region Tournament. The Midgets finished with a 17-20 record on the season.

JAMESTOWN — Complacency reared its ugly head whenever Bismarck High got out to a big lead on Thursday, and it cost the Demons the opening set.

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After that, however, finishing wasn’t an issue.

Bismarck rallied from the early deficit, eventually posting a 21-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-14 West Region quarterfinal win over Dickinson at the JHS gym.

The Demons (21-14) meet Jamestown in today’s 6 p.m. semifinal and are the only conference team to have avoided being swept at least once by the Blue Jays. Dickinson (17-20) plays Mandan in a loser-out match at 2 p.m.

Bismarck didn’t have any problems at the start of its sets, getting out to a comfortable lead in all four. It may have been too comfortable, especially the first set.

“Whenever we had a big split in our points, we lost a bit of our discipline and we had to fight to get it back,” Bismarck coach Jessica Nichols said. “I think we definitely worked hard to finish after game 1.”

Dickinson trailed 18-13 in set 1, but four kills from senior Sierra Rohr helped it take a 23-19 lead, and an ace from Sydney Gangl capped the win.

“They just did a great job of getting to playable balls and sending them back over,” Nichols said of Dickinson. “They definitely did some things that got us out of our system. They were making some great-effort plays and sending them back.”

But the Demons figured out how to counter Dickinson’s style, biding their time for easy lobs that allowed them to get into system.

Bismarck led 9-3 early in the second set and despite another rally from Dickinson that allowed it to get within striking distance at 21-16, the Demons were able to close it out.

“We really talked about that adjustment; we were sending some pretty hard balls over,” Nichols said. “Eventually, they would have to send us back something easy. We needed to be ready for that and take control.”

Said Dickinson coach Jay Schobinger: “They got some confidence because we gave them some easy balls, then they were in system. When they were in system, they got some momentum.”

The third set was similar to the second, and Bismarck dominated the fourth set from start to finish.

Bismarck was paced by Natalee Todd’s match-high 15 kills. Morgan Miller added 13 kills and 10 digs, and Taylor Hoekstra had a match-high five aces.

Keely Hutchins led the Midgets with nine kills, 28 digs and two aces. Sierra Rohr added seven kills and two blocks.

“I’m not disappointed in our effort,” Schobinger said. “We had effort. We just dug ourselves a hole with some ball control stuff.”

Dickinson 25 18 17 14 — 1

Bismarck 21 25 25 25 — 3

Kills: D, Keely Hutchins 9, Sierra Rohr 7. B, Natalee Todd 15, Morgan Miller 13, Jenna Binstock 7.

Blocks: D, Rohr 2, Meryl Kovacs 2.

Aces: D, Hutchins 2, Rohr 2. B, Taylor Hoekstra 5.

Digs: D, Hutchins 28, Mackee Hoffmann 23. Madison Schobinger 17. B, Ali Fisher 31, Kenzie Kiefer 15, Hoekstra 10, Miller 10.

Assists: D, Madison Schobinger 21. B, Kiefer 35.