Raiders pick up communication, beat Wildfire
KILLDEER -- Communication improvement as its match went on proved to be the difference between Richardton-Taylor staying alive in the Region 7 Tournament and ending its season Monday evening.
The Raiders volleyball team went back and forth with Mott-Regent in the quarterfinals at the Killdeer High School gymnasium, trading leads and holding off momentum surges to advance with a 24-26, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18 victory.
"The first set was a little off," Raiders junior Sami Steiner said. "After that, we talked a lot. We were together as a team and we finished it."
Steiner sandwiched a Haley Butterfield ace with a pair of kills to lead the Raiders on an 11-3 run in the fourth set to seal the match.
After a surprising cross-court kill from Mott-Regent junior setter Alyssa Olin sealed the first match for the Wildfire, the Raiders went to the huddle looking to fix what was troubling them.
"I don't think we came out as strong as we needed to right away, but we fought our way back," Raiders head coach Kayla Zent said. "We definitely kept our composure in a lot of situations."
That composure was helped by improved communication on the court, Steiner said.
Soon, the Raiders reduced their hitting and return errors and forced the Wildfire into difficult situations.
"It's just the momentum, who has the momentum at the time. The girls played good but we just couldn't keep it I guess," Mott-Regent head coach Aryn Dangerud said. "Their communication improved. Ours declined. It just kind of fell apart there at the end."
Richardton-Taylor built a 10-2 at lead early in the second set, which signaled the tide beginning to turn in its favor.
Strong play at the net by Butterfield and senior twins Halle and Logan Olson helped the Raiders knot the match in the second set.
The third set turned on a five point run, punctuated by a pair of aces from junior setter Hannah Rummel to give the Raiders a 15-9 lead.
They held off a late charge by the Wildfire and senior Marah Friez, who rallied from a 20-13 deficit to tie the match at 22.
It took a hitting violation and a pair of kills by each Olson twin to clinch the win and shift the momentum almost entirely to the Raiders.
"We were very strong with hitting," Steiner said. "We knew what we had to do and we went out there and did it. We were strong mentally and we got excited, which helped boost our attitudes and it helped us communicate."
Mott-Regent opened up an early lead in the fourth set and the match appeared headed to a fifth and deciding set before the Raiders used a six-point surge to take an 11-10 lead. The teams traded leads until it was 15-15.
That was when Richardton-Taylor began closing out its victory.
Halle Olson had 12 kills to lead the Raiders while Steiner and Butterfield each added nine kills and three aces. Hannah Rummel had 35 assists, 14 digs and four aces.
The Raiders, the No. 3 seed from District 14, face District 14 champion Beulah at 6 p.m. today in the semifinals.
"We just have to be playing our game, definitely minimize errors," Zent said. "Last time we saw them, it was a good match. We match up with them, but we've got to be playing our game and come out and take care of business right away."
Junior Abby Honeyman had nine kills and two blocks while Friez had seven kills, three blocks and two digs to lead the Wildfire, the District 13 runner-up who finished the season 13-12 overall - the first winning season in team history.
"They did a really good job," Dangerud said. "I'm pretty proud of them."
RT 24 25 25 25 -- 3
MR 26 18 23 18 -- 1
Kills: RT, Halle Olson 12, Haley Butterfield 9, Sami Steiner 9. MR, Abby Honeyman 9, Marah Friez 7, Naomi Meier 6.
Blocks: RT, Ashley Gullickson 3, H. Olson 1, Logan Olson 1. MR, Friez 3, Honeyman 2.
Aces: RT, Hannah Rummel 4, Butterfield 3, Steiner 3. MR, McKayla Roll 3, Molly Kouba 2, Friez 2, Olin 2.
Digs: RT, Brooklyn Miller 16, Maggie Zentner 16, Rummel 14. MR, Honeyman 6, Kouba 5, Meier 5, Friez 2.
Assists: RT, Rummel 35. MR, Olin 27, Roll 4.
Region 7 Tournament
At Killdeer High School Gymnasium
Beulah def. New England, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22
Richardton-Taylor def. Mott-Regent, 24-26, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18
Beach def. Hazen, 27-25, 25-16, 25-21
Dickinson Trinity def. Heart River, 25-20, 25-13, 25-19
Beulah vs. Richardton-Taylor, 6 p.m.
Beach vs. Dickinson Trinity, 7:30 p.m.
Third place: Semifinal losers, 6 p.m.
Championship: Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.