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Last laugh, first WDA win: Midgets rally from 0-2 hole to defeat Minot

The Dickinson High volleyball team celebrates after a five-set comeback victory over Minot on Saturday, Sept. 8 from the DHS Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

Pulling away in the fifth set during a clash against Minot, the Dickinson High volleyball team was so close to victory that the players could taste it.

However, the final points in any match are always the ones to capture.

The Midgets raced out to a 12-6 advantage before the visitors chipped away, twice closing to within two. But when junior outside hitter Peyton Selle shut the door with her match-high 20th kill, Dickinson could finally celebrate, earning a resilient five-set comeback victory over the Majettes 21-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-12, 15-12 on Saturday, Sept. 8 from the DHS Gym.

The victory over Minot is Dickinson's first win in conference play this season.

"I think we were [nervous], but if you make a mistake, our team is realizing to shake it off right away and not hold a grudge on it. When we do that, we are way better," said junior outside hitter Madison Lindley, who finished with 16 kills. "When you are having fun, everything else goes away."

After losing a competitive first frame, Dickinson (3-8, West Region 1-3) found itself down by 10 points in the second.

With an 0-2 hole looming, the Midgets began to figure it out, slicing the deficit down to 23-21. And while Dickinson would end up dropping the set, momentum shifted towards the ladies in orange and grey, who controlled the action the rest of the afternoon.

"I just told them 'whether we can come back and win this [second] set or not, we are never going to give up, but we have to steal the momentum. We have to take the momentum away,'" Midgets head coach Jay Schobinger said. "I got to give them credit. They came in and took the momentum, even though we dropped that set. I think that was huge."

Down 9-7 in the third, Lindley and Selle carried the Dickinson freight train, combining for seven kills as part of 12-4 run. Minot narrowed the gap to 22-19, but the home team closed out the frame with kills from Lindley, Selle and a block from junior middle hitter Audrey Rodakowski.

Patrolling the middle of the floor, Lindley and Rodakowski's increased activity in front of the net became a game-changer.

"We had to get our middles going, they weren't going and getting the ball like they know they can," Schobinger said. "Once Madison and Audrey started to go get the ball, that opened things up on the outside. Our middles finally went 'alright, we got to go and get this done.'"

With the middle becoming a force, senior setter Lauren Jorda began sending a flurry of passes to the outside, setting up smashing attacks from freshman hitter Taya Hopfauf and junior hitter Taylor Nelson toward the power alley and sidelines.

Jorda amassed 53 assists while leading the squad with six service aces.

With offense clicking on all cylinders, the defense made its presence felt in the fourth. Up 12-7, spectacular digs from Selle and Rodakowski saved the point and cleared the way for a Nelson kill, bringing the Midgets crowd to its feet.

Nelson and Rodakowski pushed the advantage to 16-8 on a combined block. Rodakowski paced the Midgets with four stops at the net, Nelson added three.

"The difference today in the later sets I think really came down to our fundamentals," Rodakowski said. "When we get tired, we kind of have the urge to break down, but we knew that we could beat this team, so we just stayed the course and did everything we needed to do correctly. ... We're clicking now when we need to cover, even when it's looking like it going to go over, even on tight stuff."

Junior libero Kendryn Bullinger and senior defensive specialist Madi Eckelberg protected the endline. Bullinger collected a game-high 23 digs and Eckelberg chipped in with 13; sandwiched in between was Selle with 21 digs.

Senior libero outside hitter Morgan Thies led the way for the Majettes with 16 digs. She also added a pair of aces while Caitlyn Messner contributed with 10 kills, six digs and a team-leading three aces.

Minot head coach Sherry Carlson tried to slow her opponent's play, calling seven timeouts from middle of the second set on, but it wasn't in the cards.

"We just have to play our game. We let our errors kind of get in the way and [Dickinson] got to take control of the game," Carlson said. "The first few sets, we definitely had the set-ups and we had control of the game, then they had the momentum and couldn't get it back. ... This will only make us tougher. When you go five sets, it only makes you tougher."

Results Saturday

Dickinson 3, Minot 2

M 25 25 19 12 12 — 2

D 21 21 25 25 15 — 3

Kills: M, Caitlyn Messner 10, Sydney Beck 9, Alyson Lucy 5. D, Peyton Selle 20, Madison Lindley 16, Audrey Rodakowski 9, Taylor Nelson 8.

Blocks: M, Carrie Otto 2, Lauren McLean 2. D, Rodakowski 4, Nelson 3.

Aces: M, Messner 3, Morgan Theis 2. D, Lauren Jorda 6, Kendryn Bullinger 3.

Digs: M, Theis 16, Paige Rosencrans 7, Hailey Espe 7, Messner 6. D, Bullinger 23, Selle 21, Madi Eckelberg 21, Jorda 10, Taya Hopfauf 9, Rodakowski 9.

Assists: Espe 19, Rosencrans 6. Jorda 53.

Records: M, 5-7 (West Region 1-4). D, 3-8 (West Region 1-3).

Patrick Bernadeau

Patrick Bernadeau is a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press. He can be reached at his office number (701) 456-1211 or email him at pbernadeau@thedickinsonpress.com. Joining the Dickinson Press in July 2017, he was previously a freelance sports writer for Treasure Coast Newspapers (TCPalm.com) in Stuart, FL as well as carrying bylines from the Associated Press, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, Florida Today and Naples Daily News. Prior to his move to Dickinson, he resided in Port St. Lucie, FL, earning a Bachelor's Degree from Florida Atlantic University. Patrick was born and raised in Brockton, Mass and is an avid Boston sports fan. Born to Haitian parents, Patrick's favorite meal is Griot with Banana Peze, Pikliz (Fried pork with smashed plaintains and a spicy vegetable relish) and a tall glass of Cherry Coke.

(701) 456-1211