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One more game: Trinity advances to Region 7 championship game

Dickinson Trinity senior Megan Krebs (left) and junior Masy Kuntz (right) block an attack from New England on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

The New England volleyball team defeated Dickinson Trinity 25-19 in the opening set of the first Region 7 semifinal game. The Titans gained momentum though, winning the second set 25-21.

They only improved from there, winning the next two 25-20 and 25-7, defeating the Tigers 3-1 on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

With the win, the Titans advance to the championship game on Thursday against Heart River.

"The same thing happened earlier in the year," Trinity head coach Breanna Messer said. "We knew they were a team that comes out with fire right away. We just needed to control their momentum and we used that determination from losing the first set and we put that into sets two, three and four. It's never fun to lose the first set but it just made us work even harder."

Tiger senior middle blocker, Hailee Kuske led the team with five blocks and two aces. She also added eight kills on the day.

"That's a big one for us to lose next year," New England head coach Taylor Hafner said. "She's going on to play college volleyball so at least we'll still get to see her play, but she's always been a huge offensive and defensive threat for us. She's such a great blocker and she sees the floor so effectively."

The Titans learned what she was doing in the first set, and combatted it in the latter sets.

"We had a slow start but after that we found a rhythm," Trinity senior outside hitter Sarah Mayer said. "We found the ball, we found what worked and you could tell in the next three sets that followed."

Mayer, alongside senior Bailey Jahner, led the team with 19 digs. She added six kills and one ace as well.

While the Titans narrowly led in the middle two sets, they came alive in the fourth.

"We just said that no ball drops, no ball goes out of bounds, no balls hit the net," Mayer said. "We set our goals high and you can tell we reached them. We weren't letting up for anything."

The Tigers put up four points in the opening minutes, trailing 7-4, but the Titans went on a 12-point run, bringing their lead to 19-4.

Junior outside hitter Bre Tessier tallied 10 kills on the night, most of which came in the final set.

"Something just clicked in that last set where she's like, 'I'm putting the ball away every time I touch it.' She did that," Messer said. "She came aggressive and had that refuse to lose mindset."

Junior middle hitter Masy Kuntz led the Titans with 16 kills and added 12 digs and one block.

New England advances to play Hazen on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m. to determine the Region 7 third place finisher.

Dickinson Trinity will face Heart River, who they lost to in the 2016 semifinal game.

"I think we have to stay focused and be in the right mindset," Messer said. "We know Region 7 has a lot of good teams. If we can just acknowledge that Heart River is a good team and we can keep up with them, hopefully that kick starts that first set right away."

Trinity 3, New England 1

NE 25 21 21 7 — 1

T 19 25 25 25 — 3

Kills: NE, Elizabeth Kaufman 9, Hailee Kuske 8, Hadley Binstock 4, Paige Ehlis 4, Shelly Kathrein 1. T, Masy Kuntz 16, Bre Tessier 10, Sarah Mayer 6, Alexa Walby 4, Amaya Willer 3, Megan Krebs 2.

Blocks: NE, Kuske 5, Binstock 1. T, Willer 3, Krebs 2, Kuntz 1.

Aces: NE, Kuske 2, Kaufman 1, Ehlis 1, Molly Rayhorn 1. T, Farrah Zeller 3, Bailey Jahner 2, Amber Sickler 1, Mayer 1.

Digs: NE, Victoria Jalbert 16, Kaufman 15, Kathrein 7, Ehlis 6, Kuske 5. T, Jahner 19, Mayer 19, Zeller 15, Kuntz 12, Walby 9.

Assists: NE, Ehlis 11, Jalbert 10, Kathrein 2, Kuske 1. T, Walby 35.