DSU volleyball ready for comeback after difficult last seasons
“Last year we would compete for the first 12-15 points then we would make mistakes and lose our confidence. One thing we have been focusing on is moving past those mistakes and not dwelling on things we can’t change,” said Shari Hewson, head coach.
DICKINSON — Last year DSU volleyball battled through a brutal season of losses, finishing in a tie for dead last in the region alongside Waldorf.
The Blue Hawks had a 2-12 conference record and an overall record of 2-25. Out of 12 away games, the team failed to garner a single win and wrapped up the 2021 season with a 0-3 (25-20,25-21,25-20) loss against the Mayville State University Comets.
To say it was a season of hard learned lessons would be an understatement.
Head coach Shari Hewson took over at the helm of the team, following Jenn Willis' departure last year, and began coaching the Blue Hawks less than a week before the season start date. Adjusting to such a big change at the last minute proved to be a challenge for the girls.
“I came in and I didn’t know the girls personally,” Hewson said. “Last year we would compete for the first 12-15 points then we would make mistakes and lose our confidence. One thing we have been focusing on is moving past those mistakes and not dwelling on things we can’t change.”
Hewson says the team has significantly improved their communication and confidence since last season, noting that during the spring the team spent a lot of time together working out, lifting and practicing reps on the court.
“They knew after having a rough season that they could make excuses for it or they could make it better,” Hewson said. “The girls I have returning are determined to be better and to improve in areas that we struggled with.”
As a former athlete herself, Hewson played volleyball at three different colleges: Williston State, the University of South Carolina Upstate, and Minot State University, she knows what it takes to produce wins. As a senior for the Beavers, she recorded 238 kills, 176 digs and 33 blocks. Her freshman and sophomore seasons, she led the Williston State College Tetons with 390 kills and 446 digs.
Prior to coaching at DSU, Hewson taught first grade at Jefferson Elementary in Dickinson for four years.
Coaching alongside her this year will be assistant coaches Makenzie Digesualdo and Gale Dobitz who are entering their fourth and seventh seasons with the Blue Hawks.
The Hawks only graduated one senior last year, outside hitter Baylie Dashner.
“Her presence on the team will be missed, not only as a leader on the court, but she was a hard worker in general,” Hewson said.
Because of COVID, several girls who would have been seniors last year now have an extra year of eligibility — experience Hewson believes will benefit the team.
Senior right side Mackenna Johnson, who was second team All-Conference last year, and senior defensive specialist (libero) Jenna Swope remain with the team. Last year they were key point contributors, each with an outstanding number of kills and digs.
“They’ve put in more time than anyone,'' Hewson said. “They are a big benefit for our team.”
Johnson is currently recovering from an abdominal injury but is expected to be ready to play soon.
“When Mackenna is on the court and off, there is a complete difference,” Hewson said. “The amount of respect and level of play she brings is different. She will be offensively and defensively a big threat for our team.”
The Hawks are a relatively young group this season with six new freshmen and only three seniors. Hewson expects freshmen Mary Schnell, Katie Collum and sophomore captain Madi Wahl will be key contributors this season alongside junior Dawson Community College transfer Haydin Henschel.
Out of 27 total games on the schedule this season, the Blue Hawks will play seven at their home court in Scott Gymnasium.
“In volleyball, you kind of need everyone to contribute," Hewson said. "You can't have just one person."
To view the Blue Hawks full 2022 schedule visit https://www.dsubluehawks.com/schedule/0/14