Dickinson sent to consolation bracket following three set loss to Century

DHS falls to Century in first round of WDA volleyball tournament

Setter Staci Kempenich blocks the ball back to Century's side in the second set in the WDA tournament Thursday, Nov. 11. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

DHS’ unwavering efforts were not enough on Thursday as they fell in three sets against the No.1 seeded Bismarck Century in their first match of the WDA volleyball tournament.

The Midgets traveled to Watford City to participate in the west region’s double elimination playoffs. After securing a victory against Williston last Thursday , Nov. 4, the eager team were set to play top seeded Bismarck Century in a pairing that weighed heavily in the favor of the capital city.

Though the Midgets (7-13, 17-17) fought tooth and nail against their stronger opposition, the Patriots (19-1, 31-2) needed three sets to secure the victory. Senior Libero Reese Hauck said she believes the teams resilient attitudes and confident play was what set them apart and gave them an advantage in their hunt for a spot in the state tourney.

“I think that is one thing that has definitely defined us this whole season,” Hauck said. “I am really glad that we finally started to believe in ourselves and show what we can do and prove to other people that we can hang with some of the best teams in the state.”

The first two sets were tightly contested losses by the narrowest of margins, before Dickinson’s efforts faltered late in the final set — losing by seven points.


Play opened with the first match decided at 25-21, with many onlookers surprised with the Midgets’ strong start and continued grit throughout the set. Hauck and outside hitter Caton Pearcy delivered a pair of aces apiece, with Pearcy dropping another ace late in the final set.

After recovering from her season long injury in late October, middle blocker Jenna Decker showed real stride in regaining both her physical dominance and confidence in a contribution tallying four kills in the first set alone.

The Midget were more tenacious in the second set as they were hitmen on the floor, delivering 10 kills, with half coming from Pearcy alone.

Caton Pearcy lead the Midgets in kills with 10. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

With Staci Kempenich, the setter, serving, Dickinson would stretch out a five-point run bringing the set to within one at 23-22. Unfortunately for them, they would get no closer, ending the set 25-22.

“We knew going into this that we weren't going to focus on them as the one seed. It was just another game that we needed to get through,” senior hitter Taya Hopfauf said. “The first two sets we started off with that fire we wanted … That third set came around and we just had a little bit of a lull. We just couldn't get out of one serve reception, but other than that I think we fought through the entire match.”


Taya Hopfauf contributed five kills and 11 digs against Century at the WDA tournament Thursday, Nov. 11. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

Head coach Jay Schobinger gave proper recognition to the Bismarck setter, Delani Clarke, who served two of Century’s three aces.

“Honestly, for them the same server, all three sets, kind of took it to us,” Schobinger said. “We couldn't break her consistently and she did a nice job; serving short, serving deep, kept us on our toes and we didn't have that ball control when she was at the service line.”

The third and final set was a quieter affair with the game slipping away from Dickinson 21-11 in a confidence crushing rally by the Patriots. Not one to go swinging, the Midgets would make one last sprint to a four-point run, but would run out of ammo giving Century the final bullseye for 25-16.

With their first game behind them, the Midgets look to rebound and now face an uphill battle to work their way through the consolation bracket for an opportunity to still qualify for state. Bismarck St. Mary’s, like Dickinson, faced early trouble in the tourney falling to Bismarck Legacy and setting the stage for Friday’s match.

“I thought our kids did a really good job today. Other than a little bit of a let down in set three I thought our kids went out fought hard and battled,” Schobinger said. “We got to see what we can do and try and win two (games) here in the next few days.”


Kills - Caton Pearcy, 10; Jenna Decker, 7; Hopfauf, 5; Staci Kempenich, 3; Jazmin Barry,1


Digs - Reese Hauck, 24; Hopfauf, 11; Kempenich, 11; Pearcy, 9; Mckenna Eckelberg, 8; Barry,3 Decker, 2

Assists - Kempenich, 23

Blocks - Jenna Decker, 2; Kempenich, 1; Hopfauf, 1; Jazmin Barry, 1

Aces - Pearcy, 3; McKenna Eckelberg, 2; Kempenich, Hauck, 1

Dickinson Midgets refuse to lose their positivity and grit against Century in the WDA tournament Thursday, Nov. 11. (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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