Dickinson defeat Williston in WDA play-in game

The WDA volleyball tournament got underway Thursday night as Dickinson looked to keep their season alive.

Dickinson Midgets volleyball team come away with a 3-0 win over Williston in the play-in match for the WDA championship. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

It was win or go home for the Dickinson and Williston volleyball teams, the No. 8 and No. 9 seed in the WDA tournament. They went toe-to-toe for the quarterfinal spot, but just like a week prior, it was the Midgets who came out victorious in a 3-0 victory.

The first set ended with Staci Kempenich serving and Pearcy delivering the final kill to make 25-20.

The early part of the set showed both sides competing for the lead with a 10-10 tie, until Dickinson (7-13, 17-17) slowly found success. Middleblocker Jenna Decker and hitters Caton Pearcy and Taya Hopfauf each served an ace in the first set. Head coach Jay Schobinger said a strong serving game was part of their strategy, but their bad serves made it less effective.

“This was a do or die, it was something that had to be done and they rose to that occasion,” Schobinger said. “I think early we just lacked a little focus and then got on a roll in set two and set three.”

Set two was captured by the Midgets with a 10 point difference of 25-15. Dickinson had a 7-0 run that garnered them a 13-4 lead. Williston (4-16, 10-24) gathered some traction in the middle of the set, with back-to-back aces from Kiara Mehlhoff, making it 15-8. The Midgets went on another run of points, including Hopfauf’s second ace and one from libero Reese Hauck. Kempenich also contributed an ace in the set.


Dickinson seniors, Reese Hauck, Taya Hopfauf and Makenna Eckelberg holding down the back row against Williston in the WDA championship play-in match on Thursday, Nov. 4. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

The third set was won with an even wider margin of 25-13, with Hauck’s second ace winning the match. Senior defensive specialist Baylee Berg also completed an ace in the final set. There was a good amount of rotation of players in the front and back row that seemed to work well for the Midgets.

Pearcy led Dickinson in kills with 10. Decker, playing her third match since her return from injury, grabbed the first kill for the Midgets in each set.

“We kind of experimented throughout the week,” Schobinger said. “With Jenna Decker coming back from an injury we tried a few different things, just trying to see what would work. We used her (Pearcy) quite a bit back there and she is just a good all around player and we have to make sure she is hitting often.”

Dickinson will face Bismarck Century (19-1, 31-2) in the quarterfinals of the WDA tournament in Watford City next Thursday, Nov.11. The Midgets previous encounter with the Patriots was a 3-0 loss at home.

Middle blocker Jenna Decker(3) is back in rotation in the front row, contributing four kills, an ace and a block in their postseason matchup against Williston. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)



Kills - Caton Pearcy, 10; Taya Hopfauf, 7; Staci Kempenich, 5; Jenna Decker, 4; Reese Hauck, 2; Maeva Kuehl,2; Emily Ash,1

Digs - Reese Hauck, 21; Hopfauf, 17; Kempenich, 14; Pearcy, 12; Makenna Eckelberg, 3; Decker, 3; Sadie Stevenson, 3

Assists - Kempenich, 20

Blocks - Jazmin Barry, 1; Hopfauf, 1; Decker, 1

Aces - Hauck, 2; Hopfauf, 2; Eckelberg, 2; Kempenich, 1; Pearcy, 1; Baylee Berg,1; Decker, 1

Setter Staci Kempenich(3) rushes back to the net, next to Jenna Decker(13) with an incoming attack from Williston in the play-in matchup, Nov. 4, 2021. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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