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Victorious: Titans defeat Heart River, win region championship

Dickinson Trinity junior Masy Kuntz earned 13 kills against Heart River in the Region 7 championship on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
Heart River seniors Bailey Boltz (left) and Ashlyn Privratsky (right) block a Dickinson Trinity attack on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)2 / 3
The Dickinson Trinity volleyball team and fans celebrate following their Region 7 championship win on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

The Dickinson Trinity volleyball team did not want to repeat last year.

In the 2016 Region 7 semifinals, they went up two sets to none over Heart River, only to lose the next three along with their chance at a championship.

This year, the Titans faced the Cougars in the final game and once again had a two set lead.

After splitting the first four points of the third set, the Titans earned the next four, gaining a lead they wouldn't let go of the rest of the match. The Cougars came within a point at 18-17 but the girls in red pulled ahead again, winning the final set 25-19 on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

The win grants them a trip to the state tournament in Fargo Nov. 16-18.

"I knew we could do it in three from the beginning," junior middle hitter Masy Kuntz said. "If all of us came into this game with the mentality that we could win and the confidence, I knew we could do it. There wasn't a doubt in my mind."

For the second year in a row the Cougars made it to the regional championship game and fell just short.

"They started out strong, they started out aggressive. They swung hard. They played with their heart the entire time and we didn't do that.," Heart River head coach Laura Steffan said. "It hurts. It hurts for our seniors who work so hard to get to this spot but I couldn't be more proud."

Heart River senior Ashlyn Privratsky led the Cougars with 22 kills. She also contributed 13 digs, three aces, two assists and one block.

Heart River contended with Dickinson Trinity in the opening minutes of each set, but the Titans strung together a run in each to pull ahead.

The Titans extended a 16-11 lead to 22-11 in the opening set, eventually dismissing the Cougars 25-13 for the night's most lopsided set.

The Titans found their groove sooner in the second, extending a 3-3 tie to a 9-3 lead. They went on to win the set 25-17.

In the final frame, the Titans tallied a four-point run early on and a five-point run later on.

"I haven't seen us play this well in a long time," Titans head coach Breanna Messer said. "Things were flowing. We played very, very smoothly. It was just awesome to watch as a coach from the sidelines."

Following the Titan's victory, Messer was named the Region 7 coach of the year, as voted by region coaches.

"It's a lot of hard work from the girls and my coaching staff," Messer said. "The girls put in the time and the effort. I'm right alongside with them, putting in the hard work with them, but they ask for the help."

With one point separating the Titan's from the state tournament, Kuntz stepped back to the service line.

"At that point I was pretty confident that we were going to state," Kuntz said. "So I just said, 'this is my last regional game of the season. This is where I put all my strength into this one hit.' And it paid off."

Dickinson Trinity 3, Heart River 0

T 25 25 25 — 3

HR 13 17 19 — 0

Kills: T, Sarah Mayer 19, Masy Kuntz 13, Bre Tessier 8, Amaya Willer 7, Megan Krebs 2, Farrah Zeller 1. HR, Ashlyn Privratsky 22, Bailey Olson 5, Afton Shypkoski 4, Laken Jacobson 2.

Blocks: T, Mayer 1. HR, Privratsky 1.

Aces: T, Kuntz 3, Zeller 2, Amber Sickler 1, Alexa Walby 1, Mayer 1. HR, Privratsky 3, Jacobson 1.

Digs: T, Zeller 18, Bailey Jahner 17, Kuntz 12, Mayer 10, Sickler 7, Walby 6, Krebs 4, Tessier 3. HR, Bayli Krance 27, Jacobson 25, Olson 21, Privratsky 13, Campbell Clarys 10, Boltz 7, Shypkoski 6.

Assists: T, Walby 46, Kuntz 1, Krebs 1. HR, Olson 23, Boltz 5, Privratsky 2, Jacobson 1, Krance 1.