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Titans top Cougars: Dickinson Trinity uses 5 sets to take Region 7 win against Heart River

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson Trinity senior Gretchen Weir, left, and sophomore Kennedy Keator, right, go up for a block against Heart River senior Nettie Splichal on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center. The Titans defeated the Cougars in five sets.

In a five-set match, each team saw the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

Not to mention, each team gained a learning experience.

For the Dickinson Trinity and Heart River volleyball teams, each learned not to let its guard down and applied pressure at all points in time.

The Titans used the tandem of Gretchen Weir and Katelyn Grinsteinner to take a five-set win over Heart River 25-23, 25-27, 25-9, 19-25, 17-15 on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

"We had our ups and downs," Trinity head coach Rayma Braaten said. "We are trying to figure out how to be more of a consistent team. (Heart River) played us extremely well. They were picking up pretty much everything we put their way, which made it tougher for us.

"The girls looked really good at times and then not so good some other times."

In the final set, Grinsteinner was a one-person wrecking crew, scoring five of the team's first eight points. The Titans grabbed an 8-1 lead. Grinsteinner, who finished with 14 kills and 31 digs, said the crowd was amped up in the final set.

"The last match was fun," Grinsteinner said with a smile. "The crowd really got the intensity going and then we came together as a team and played hard. We gave it all we have."

However, the Cougars didn't go away -- not in the slightest.

Heart River went back to work and fought back to tie the game at 11-11 after one of Jasmin Northrop's three aces. The Titans scored the next two points on a Heart River serving error and Allison Steffan ripping a kill.

The Cougars responded with two quick points on a Trinity serving error and Desiree Johnson knocking down a kill. Heart River then had match-point after back-to-back Trinity hitting errors, but Grinsteinner came to the rescue knocking down a kill. Johnson ended with a game-high 17 kills and four blocks.

The Titans' junior setter Katie Dockter, who only had one kill in the game, saved it for the most opportune time.

"That definitely gave us a little heart attack" said Dockter, who finished with 45 assists and 14 digs. "We learned that we can't let our guard down. We have to play strong the whole way through beginning to end. That match was a heart attack and a half."

After Grinsteinner's kill, Dockter knocked her first and only kill to bring the Titans within a point for the match. Weir, who has been Trinity's go-to player throughout the season, answered the final call getting her 14th and final kill of the match.

In the opening two sets, the Titans and Cougars knew it wasn't going to be an easy night. They battled back and forth each taking a two-point set win.

"We knew that we had to come to compete," said Heart River senior libero Alex Poland, who supplied a team-high 23 digs. "Each game we surprised ourselves. It could have gone both ways. Sometimes it went for us, sometimes it went for them."

Heart River experienced its lowest of lows in the third set after taking the second. The Titans poured on the pressure and the Cougars didn't have an answer. Trinity used multiple runs to take an easy win.

"We just had our down moments it was hard after those down moments to get ourselves back up," Heart River head coach Hope Volesky said. "Game 3 and the beginning of Game 5 were down moments. We managed to pulled out of it."

But, the Cougars responded with a win in set four to force a fifth game. The Cougars' Nettie Splichal and Karli Northrop each supplied 10 kills, while Jada Mattson dished out 37 assists.

The Titans' had a solid day defensive as Jillian Stockert had a game-high 88 digs. Kennedy Keator supplied 42 digs and eight kills, while Katelyn Rummel posted 36 digs.

Trinity continues its season traveling to Beach and Heart River travels to Bowman County at 6:30 next Tuesday. Each team is going to work on "the little things" throughout this week of the practice.

"You learn how to deal with the pressure and how to come back strong after you lost a match," Braaten said. "You don't want those games as a coach, but when they come and you end up winning it is good for your team."

Volesky added: "If we work hard and set anticipating more, it will open the door for more opportunities. It shows the girls that we can compete with (Trinity). We can compete with anyone. That was probably the biggest thing that we got out of this game."

Heart River 23 27 9 25 15 -- 2

Trinity 25 25 25 19 17 -- 3

Kills: HR, Desiree Johnson 17, Nettie Splichal 10, Karli Northrop 10. T, Gretchen Weir 17, Katelyn Grinsteinner 14, Kennedy Keator 8, Allison Steffan 8, Brianna Soehren 6.

Blocks: HR, Kayla Raskin 7, Johnson 4. T, Keator 3, Weir 2.

Aces: HR, Jasmin Northrop 3. T, Madison Jahner 2.

Digs: HR, Alex Poland 23, K. Northrop 16, Addison Olson 14. T, Jillian Stockert 88, Keator 42, Katelyn Rummel 36, Grinsteinnner 32, Katie Dockter 14.

Assists: HR, Jada Mattson 37. T, Dockter 42.