Playing at the forefront of one of the most successful stretches in program history, nine seniors from the Dickinson Trinity volleyball team were recognized prior to their final regular-season match in front of the home crowd against Beach on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Beginning the ceremony with defensive specialist Ali Daniel and ending with setter Alexa Walby, the nine players walked onto the court with parents and loved ones by their side before receiving a round of applause from the audience.
For one particular senior, the moment was almost too much to handle.
"The moment was super hard, I know that I was bawling my eyes out," Dickinson Trinity senior outside hitter Kelbi Jacobson said. "It's hard to know that next year, we won't be able to play together, but these next couple of matches and regionals will be a great time for us, too and really finish it off."
When the action on the floor got underway, the Titans quickly transitioned out of the hoopla and into the competitive fire that has them on top of Region 7, dispatching the Buccaneers in three sets 25-11, 25-14, 25-9 on Senior Night from the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
Dickinson Trinity remains undefeated against regional opponents and improved a season-high 27 matches above .500.
"I thought we came out strong and we came out in the right mindset. I think things can get kind of emotional on Senior Night, especially with such a large group of seniors," Titans head coach Breanna Sisson said. "After all of the senior night show, we got in the right mindset after that and came out strong."
Along with regulars Walby and senior outside hitter Bre Tessier, Sisson began the night with Jacobson, senior defensive specialist Lexi Andres, senior middle hitter Laura Meyer and senior rear Macy Gress in the starting lineup.
Early in the match, Jacobson collected a pair of kills to give the Titans a 5-4 lead in the first set.
"I feel like with our team, even if we are hard on ourselves, we easily bounce it off of chest and are able pick it back up," Jacobson said. "With all of us cheering each other on, it works out perfectly."
After Beach tied the match at 5-5, Dickinson Trinity poured in seven straight points to take control of the frame. The home team went on an 8-0 run later in the set before senior Farrah Zeller connected with one of her five kills on the evening.
The Buccaneers stayed within striking distance in the second frame when a kill from junior setter Andrea Lund closed their deficit to 14-9, but the Titans surged ahead scoring 7 of the next 8 points.
"I think we played well. We are a very young team, so we have to play the best that we can with the experience that we have," Beach head coach Marty Campbell said. "We met goals that we set before the match, but it's tough to be super competitive with a powerhouse like Trinity."
Lund led Beach with seven assists while adding a pair of kills.
Dickinson Trinity jumped on the Buccaneers early in the third set, taking a commanding 12-3 advantage. The Titans closed the night on a 7-0 run that featured four aces from Walby, who paced the team with seven.
The Titan seniors were on the top of every statistical category, led by outside hitter Bre Tessier, who along with sophomore middle hitter Amaya Willer, had nine kills. Defensively, senior outside hitter Masy Kuntz paced the Titans with three blocks, while Zeller added a team-high six digs.
Walby finished with a match-high 31 assists, aiding the Titans to their 30th victory in their last 33 matches at home.
"Our crowd is amazing, it's a privilege," Daniel said. "Since Coach Sisson has been here, we have not lost (many) home regular-season games and we hold that near and dear for her."
Most of the senior class has been on varsity since they were sophomores, just one year before Sisson became head coach. Since then, she has taken pleasure in seeing what the group of young ladies have become.
"With them having such a strong bond, it's easy as a coach to coach them because they are very willing to do what they need to," Sisson said. "I've been fortunate enough to grow also with their bond and journey with volleyball. Just seeing them grow as people has been just an awesome sight, watching them develop as people and players is something really special."
Dickinson Trinity 3, Beach 0
B 11 14 9 - 0
DT 25 25 25 - 3
Kills: B, Megan Rising 3, Alyvia Braden 3, Andrea Lund, 2. DT, Bre Tessier 9, Amaya Willer 9, Farrah Zeller 5, Abbey Kubas 5, Masy Kuntz 4.
Blocks: B, Taya Schumacher 1, Mikayla Paul 1. DT, Kuntz 3, Am. Willer 1, A. Kubas 1, Laura Meyer 1, Macy Gress 1.
Aces: B, Rising 1. DT, Alexa Walby 7, Zeller 2, Kuntz 2, Tessier 1, Kelbi Jacobson 1.
Digs: B, Madi Wilhelmi 2. DT, Zeller 6, Tessier 5, Ali Daniel 5, Asia Willer 3.
Assists: B, Lund 7. DT, Walby 31, Kali Kubas 1.
Records: B, 4-25-1 (0-10 Region 7). DT, 32-5 (10-0 Region 7).